If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
Under Maine state law, a person cannot get a firearm permit –to have or buy a firearm– if any of the following apply:
- as an adult, s/he was convicted of (or found “not criminally responsible by reason of insanity” of) any of the following crimes:
- domestic violence assault;
- domestic violence criminal threatening;
- domestic violence terrorizing;
- domestic violence stalking;
- domestic violence reckless conduct;
- a domestic violence crime similar to any of the above Maine state-specific crimes but it was committed in another state;
- a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or more, which usually means that it is a felony; or
- any crime committed while using a firearm or other dangerous weapon in Maine, in another state, or in the Passamaquoddy Tribe or Penobscot Nation;1
- as a juvenile, s/he was found to have engaged in conduct that would have been considered any of the above-mentioned crimes if s/he committed the act as an adult. If it was “a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or more,” the prohibition only applies if, while committing the act, s/he caused bodily injury to another person or bodily injury was threatened;2
- s/he was found to be “not criminally responsible by reason of insanity” for any crime;
- s/he was found to be “not competent to stand trial” for any crime; or
- s/he is a fugitive from justice.3
Note: In some situations, the restriction on getting a permit only lasts for a certain period of time. Once five years has passed after the adult or juvenile completes the sentence imposed as a result of one of the following convictions, s/he can re-apply for a permit to carry a firearm (but s/he still cannot get get a permit to carry a concealed handgun):
- for adults, committing a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or more (usually, a felony); or
- for juveniles, committing:
- the crime described in paragraph 2 (above); or
- any crime committed while using a firearm or other dangerous weapon in Maine, in another state, or in the Passamaquoddy Tribe or Penobscot Nation.4
However, if the conviction was for one of the domestic violence crimes listed in paragraph 1, there is the additional requirement that the person must not have been convicted of any crimes during the five-year period after completing the sentence. If the person is convicted of a new crime during the five-year period, s/he has to wait an additional five years after the sentence for that new crime is completed before applying for the firearm permit.5
The length of the prohibition is even shorter if the crime was nonviolent and was committed by a juvenile. If the juvenile did not cause or threaten bodily injury while committing any of the acts described in paragraph 1, s/he can get a firearm permit when s/he turns 18 or three years after completing of the sentence, whichever is later.6
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(A-1), (1-B)
2 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(C), (1-B)(B)
3 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1)(E)(2)-(3), (1)(F)
4 ME ST T. 15 § 393(2)
5 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1-B)(B)
6 ME ST T. 15 § 393(1-A)
If a law enforcement officer or other government employee is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he own, have, or buy a gun?
No. Law enforcement officers and other government officials convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot own, possess, or buy guns for any purpose, including for their official duties, according to federal law.1
1 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony?
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but these records are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records. You can find contact information for courthouses in Maine on our ME Courthouse Locations page.
Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records also are kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but the department is not required to do so.
To read more about the NICS, please see What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?