If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
It depends. If the abuser has been convicted of a felony, is it illegal for him/her to have or buy a gun under federal law. Federal law also states that if someone has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun -- however, this currently does not apply to certain states on the West Coast, including Alaska.*
Under Alaska state law, if a person had in his/her possession or used a deadly weapon while committing a crime involving domestic violence, the judge should order that the gun be taken away and given to the commissioner of public safety or a law enforcement agency.** Alaska law also says that someone who has been convicted of two or more class A misdemeanors within the past six years is not eligible for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.***
In addition, Alaska state law says that a police officer who is investigating a crime of domestic violence can seize any deadly weapons that are in plain view at the scene of the crime, if the officer believes taking the weapon is necessary to protect you or your family. Also, if the abuser had or used a deadly weapon against you during the domestic violence, the police officer can take any weapons (in plain view or not) that the abuser has in his/her possession. However, if the weapon is not needed as evidence in a criminal case, the law enforcement agency that has the weapon must let the owner get the weapon back.****
* 18 USC § 922 (g)(9); (Note: although federal law prohibits owning or buying a gun if the abuser is convicted of a "domestic violence misdemeanor," none of Alaska's domestic violence misdemeanors have the 'intentional' element that is required under current case law to meet the federal definition. Therefore, a conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor in Alaska does not make it illegal for an abuser to own or buy a gun. See United States v. Nobriga, 474 F.3d 561 (9th Cir. Ct App., 2006))
** Alaska Statute § 12.55.015(f)
*** Alaska Statute § 18.65.705(4)
**** Alaska Statute § 18.65.515(b)