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Legal Information: Mississippi

Mississippi State Gun Laws

State Gun Laws

This section contains information about who is prohibited from having a gun under Oklahoma state gun laws. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

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 MS Places that Help page to find domestic violence organizations and legal help in your area.

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is the definition of a felony?

Under Mississippi state law, a felony is any offense that can be punished by death or confinement in the penitentiary.1

1 MS Code § 1-3-11

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Under Mississippi state law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm.1

Mississippi state law also says that in order for a person to get a license to carry a concealed handgun (or stun gun), all of the following must be true:

  1. s/he must be a resident of the state (but this requirement can be waived in certain situations);
  2. s/he must be at least 21 years old (but there is an exception for someone who is 18 or older and is a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces);
  3. s/he does not suffer from a physical condition that would prevent the safe handling of a firearm;
  4. s/he has not been convicted of a felony in any state;
  5. s/he has not had an adjudication of guilt withheld or has not had a suspended sentence on any felony (unless it has been more than three years since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled);
  6. s/he is not a fugitive from justice;
  7. s/he does not regularly abuse controlled substances (drugs) or alcohol to the point that his/her normal functioning is harmed;
  8. s/he has not been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a:
    • treatment facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or been found guilty of a drug-related crime within the preceding three-year period; or
    • treatment facility as an alcoholic or has been convicted of 2 or more offenses related to the use of alcohol within the preceding three-year period;
    • mental institution or mental health treatment facility (unless s/he has a psychiatrist verify that s/he has not suffered from the disability for a period of 5 years); and
  9. s/he has not been found to be “mentally incompetent” by a court.2

1 MS Code § 97-37-5(1)
2 MS Code § 45-9-101(2)

Guns and Protective Orders

I have a protective order against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

There is nothing specific in Mississippi’s laws that would make it illegal for a person who has a protective order against him/her to possess a firearm. The law does not specifically authorize a judge in a protective order case to order the abuser’s firearms to be surrendered.1 In addition, having a protective order against you would not disqualify you from qualifying for a license to carry a concealed handgun.2

However, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person’s right to have a gun under certain circumstances, including when there is an order of protection that was issued after notice to the abuser and a hearing. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 See MS Code § 93-21-15(1)(a) & (2)(a)
2 See MS Code § 45-9-101(2)

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get a protective order?

Although Mississippi law doesn’t specifically authorize a judge to remove the abuser’s firearms in a protective order, the law does say that the judge is “not limited to” only the protections that are listed in the law.1 Depending on the judge in your case, perhaps there may be some things you can do to increase the chances that the judge might interpret the law to mean that the abuser can be ordered to have his/her firearms is taken away but it is not likely. Keep in mind these tips may or may not result in the outcome that you are hoping for. Every judge is different. However, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever shown you the guns or displayed them as a way to intimidate you and maintain control over you.
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your protective order that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for a protective order will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section.
  • It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the protection order is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:
    • require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser’s house and get them;
    • make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
    • order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.
  • If the gun restriction is granted, check to make sure that it is written on your order before leaving the courthouse.

1 See Miss. Code Ann. § 93-21-15(2)(a)

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Under Mississippi state law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to possess a firearm.1

Mississippi state law also says that in order for a person to get a license to carry a concealed handgun (or stun gun), the applicant cannot:

  1. be convicted of a felony in any state;
  2. have had an adjudication of guilt withheld or a suspended sentence on any felony (unless it has been more than three years since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled); and
  3. be a fugitive from justice.2

1 MS Code § 97-37-5(1)
2 MS Code § 45-9-101(2)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Criminal records are open to the public, but they 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.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also 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 they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

The Abuser Isn't Supposed to Have a Gun...Now What?

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our MS Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Mississippi on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MS Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1

1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What is the penalty for violating state firearm laws?

Under Mississippi state law, if a convicted felon possesses a firearm, it is a felony. If convicted, the defendant can be punished by a prison term of between one and ten years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.1

1 MS Code § 97-37-5(2)

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

1National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

I do not have a protective order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of any crime. Can s/he have a gun?

There are very few laws in Mississippi that restrict a person’s right to have a firearm other than being convicted of a felony. Therefore, the abuser may still be able to possess a firearm under Mississippi state law. However, federal laws, which apply to all states would make it illegal for the abuser to possess a firearm if s/he:

  • is a fugitive from justice (fled any state to avoid being prosecuted or to avoid testifying in any criminal proceeding);
  • is an unlawful user of or addicted to drugs (controlled substances) - but this does not include alcohol or tobacco;
  • has been declared by a judge to be mentally incompetent or was committed to a mental institution against their will; who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity; or has undergone some other court proceeding about their mental illness;1
  • is an immigrant who is illegally or unlawfully present in the U.S.;
  • has been dishonorably discharged from the military; or
  • has given up (renounced) her/his citizenship to the U.S.2

In addition, under Mississippi state law, it’s possible that even if you do not have a protective order and the abuser has not been convicted of any crime, s/he may be denied a license to carry a concealed handgun (and stun gun) if:

  1. s/he is not a resident of the state (but this requirement can be waived in certain situations);
  2. s/he is under 21 years old (but there is an exception for someone who is 18 or older and is a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces);
  3. s/he suffers from a physical condition that would prevent the safe handling of a firearm;
  4. s/he has had an adjudication of guilt withheld or has had a suspended sentence on any felony (unless it has been more than three years since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled);
  5. s/he is a fugitive from justice;
  6. s/he regularly abuses controlled substances (drugs) or alcohol to the point that his/her normal functioning is harmed;
  7. s/he has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a:
    • treatment facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or been found guilty of a drug-related crime within the preceding three-year period; or
    • treatment facility as an alcoholic or has been convicted of two or more offenses related to the use of alcohol within the preceding three-year period;
    • mental institution or mental health treatment facility (unless s/he has a psychiatrist verify that s/he has not suffered from the disability for a period of 5 years); and
  8. s/he has been found to be “mentally incompetent” by a court.3

Even if none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the MS Advocates and Shelters page.

For additional information on gun laws in Mississippi, you can go to the Giffords Law Center.

1 27 C.F.R. § 478.11
2 18 USC § 922(g)(2)-(7)
3 MS Code § 45-9-101(2)

I've read through all of this information and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x 2
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area - see MS Advocates and Shelters page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.