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Know the Laws: New Hampshire

UPDATED April 28, 2016

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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 NH Where to Find Help page to find resources in your state.

Guns and criminal convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

No. Under Federal law, if your abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.*  If you're not sure if your abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

In addition, New Hampshire state law says that your abuser cannot have a gun if he:

  • has violated the no contact portion of a protective order, including a temporary order.
  • has been convicted of a felony for a crime of violence
  • has been convicted of a drug-related crime; or
  • has been convicted of three or more felonies (any kind) in NH.**

* 18 USC 922(g)(9)
** RSA § 159:3-a

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back to topWhat crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

A crime is considered a domestic violence misdemeanor under Federal law if it:

  • Can be defined as a misdemeanor under federal or state law; and
  • Involves physical violence or force, or includes threats made with a deadly weapon; and
  • Was committed by a current or former spouse; a parent or guardian of the victim; a person with whom the victim shares a child; a person living with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or a person who has a similar relationship with the spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.*
Note: The crime does not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply. The relationship that the victim has with the offender is what determines whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence" misdemeanor.

For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, he may no longer have or buy a gun.  If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.

*18 USC 921(a)(33)

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back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?

A felony under Federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.*  In New Hampshire, a felony is generally a crime committed by a person that is punishable by a sentence of more than one year in jail.**

* 18 USC § 3559
** RSA § 625:9(III)

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back to topIf a law enforcement officer or other government employee is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he own, have or buy a gun?

No. Law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor cannot own, have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law.*

*18 USC 925 (a) (1)

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back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor?

Domestic violence misdemeanor records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where your abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NCIS.

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