If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?
It depends. North Dakota state law prohibits the possession of any firearm under the following circumstances:
- A person who was convicted of a felony involving violence or intimidation that comes under any of the following sections of the North Dakota criminal law (or a similar felony in another state) cannot possess a firearm for 10 years from the date of conviction or the date of release from incarceration, parole, or probation, whichever is latest:
- Chapter 12.1–16. Homicide
- Chapter 12.1–17. Assaults—threats—coercion—harassment
- Chapter 12.1–17.1. Offenses against unborn children
- Chapter 12.1–18. Kidnapping
- Chapter 12.1–20. Sex offenses
- Chapter 12.1–21. Damaging property or public services
- Chapter 12.1–21.1. Animal research facility damage
- Chapter 12.1–22. Robbery—breaking and entering offenses
- Chapter 12.1–23. Theft and related offenses
- Chapter 12.1–23.1. Theft of cable television
- Chapter 12.1–24. Forgery and counterfeiting
- Chapter 12.1–25. Riot;1
- A person who was convicted of a felony (in North Dakota or in another state) that does not fall under the categories listed in #1 cannot possess a firearm for 5 years from the date of the conviction or the date of release from incarceration, parole, or probation, whichever is latest; and
- A person who was convicted of a class A misdemeanor involving violence or intimidation that comes under any of the sections of the North Dakota criminal law listed in #1 (or a similar class A misdemeanor in another state) cannot possess a firearm for 5 years from the date of conviction or the date of release from incarceration, parole, or probation, whichever is latest – however, and s/he must have used or possessed a firearm, a dangerous weapon, a destructive device or an explosive while committing the misdemeanor crime.2
In addition, if a person applies for a concealed weapons license in North Dakota, s/he should be denied the license if any of the following are true:
- s/he falls into any of the categories listed above (in #1 through #3);
- s/he has been convicted of any felony;
- s/he has been convicted of a crime of violence;
- s/he has been convicted of an offense involving domestic violence;
- s/he has been convicted of an offense involving the use of alcohol within the past ten years;
- s/he has been convicted of a misdemeanor involving the unlawful use of drugs within the past ten years;
- s/he has been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.3
If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
1 ND Statutes § 62.1-02-01(1)(a)
2 ND Statutes § 62.1-02-01(1)(b)
3 ND Statutes § 62.1-04-03(1)(c)
How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?
Misdemeanor and felony 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.
Federal law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm if the person is convicted of any felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Criminal records that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm 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?