Legal Information: Federal

Federal Gun Laws

Updated: 
August 29, 2018

The abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Under federal law, there are several situations that make it illegal for the abuser to buy, own or have a gun (or ammunition) in his/her possession. Someone can’t own a gun if s/he:

  1. has a final order of protection against him/her;
  2. has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor;
  3. has been convicted of any felony;
  4. is a fugitive from justice (fled any state to avoid being prosecuted or to avoid testifying in any criminal proceeding);
  5. is an unlawful user of or addicted to drugs (controlled substances) - but this does not include alcohol or tobacco;
  6. has been declared by a judge to be mentally incompetent or was committed to a mental institution against his/her will;
  7. has been found not guilty by reason of insanity or has been found incompetent to stand trial;
  8. is an immigrant who is illegally or unlawfully present in the U.S.;
  9. has been dishonorably discharged from the military; or
  10. has given up (renounced) her/his citizenship to the U.S.1

Note: An abuser who works for a government organization (such as a police officer or military servicemember) may still be allowed to possess a work-issued firearm even if s/he was convicted of a felony or if s/he has an order of protection issued against him/her. Please see The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply? for more information.

There could be additional circumstances under your state’s law where it would be illegal to own or have a gun. Please go to our State Gun Laws page for more information.

1 18 USC § 922(g); 27 C.F.R. § 478.11