Legal Information: Federal

Federal Gun Laws

Updated: 
August 29, 2018

What is a felony?

Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony is defined under federal law as a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.1 However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison because sentences are often reduced or pled down. For example, if someone was convicted of a felony but only spent six months in prison, s/he would likely still not be able to legally have a gun under federal law. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out, or go to the local criminal courthouse and try to search the records.

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. Please see The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply? for more information.

1 18 USC § 3559(a)