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Know the Laws: Mississippi

UPDATED September 27, 2017

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WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  Go to the MS Where to Find Help page to find shelters, advocates and lawyer referrals in your area.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topWho do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police.  If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). 

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our MS Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Mississippi on the ATF website.  For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).  Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer. 

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MS State and Local Programs page. 

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law.  If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.* 

United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

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back to topWhat is the penalty for violating state or federal firearm law?

Anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.*

Under MS state law, possession of a gun by a person convicted of a crime is a felony that can be punished by a fine of up to $5,000, a prison term of 1-10 years, or both.**  Also, any violation of a protective order can be a misdemeanor that can be punished by a fine of up to $1,000, jail time of up to 6 months, or both.***

* 18 USC § 924(a)(2)
** MS Code § 97-37-5(2)
*** MS Code § 93-21-21

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back to topI do not have a protective order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of any crime. Can s/he have a gun?

It depends.  There are other reasons why a person would not qualify to legally carry a firearm according to Mississippi law.  Even if you do not have a protective order and the abuser has not been convicted of any crime, s/he cannot get a license to carry a firearm (stun gun, concealed pistol or concealed revolver) if any of these other conditions apply:

  1. s/he is not a current resident of the state or has not been a resident for the past 12 months (Note: This requirement can be waived if the person has a valid permit from another state, is an active military person stationed in Mississippi, or is a retired law enforcement officer establishing residency in the state);
  2. s/he is not at least 21 years old (Note: There is an exception, however, for someone who is 18 or older and is a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces);
  3. s/he suffers from a physical condition that would prevent the safe handling of a firearm;
  4. s/he has had an adjudication of guilt withheld or has not had a suspended sentence on any felony (unless it has been more than 3 years since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled);
  5. s/he is a fugitive from justice;
  6. s/he regularly abuses controlled substances (drugs) or alcohol to the point that his/her normal functioning is harmed;
  7. s/he has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a:
    • treatment facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or been found guilty of a drug-related crime within the preceding three-year period; or
    • treatment facility as an alcoholic or has been convicted of 2 or more offenses related to the use of alcohol within the preceding three-year period;
    • mental institution or mental health treatment facility (unless s/he has a psychiatrist verify that s/he has not suffered from the disability for a period of 5 years); and
  8. s/he has been found to be "mentally incompetent" by a court.*

If any of these apply to your situation, please talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area about how these laws are being enforced.

Even if none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information.  You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the MS State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

For additional information on gun laws in Mississippi, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.


* MS Code § 45-9-101(2)

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back to topWhat will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from buying a gun.  Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system.  Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales.  

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate.  Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

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back to topThe abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

If the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, then under federal law, the abuser can NEVER buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer or a military employee.

However, if the abuser was not convicted of one of the above-mentioned crimes, an abuser who is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee may still be able to continue to use a gun for work purposes (but not for personal use) even if you have a protective order.*

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use his/her gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 x 2. To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our MS State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

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back to topI've read through all of this information and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see MS State and Local Programs page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.

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