Guns, gun safety, and gun rights have been very much in the news of late. You might not realize how limited some people’s Right to Bear Arms already are.
Under Pennsylvania and Federal law, you can lose the right to possess a firearm – a term that includes rifles, pistols, and pretty much anything other than a black-powder muzzle loader (more on that later) that can fire a projectile – for several reasons. The chief reason, and the one that catches the most people, is conviction for a crime. Gun rights are also curtailed for most people subject to a Protection From Abuse order (PFA), and some less common categories like being committed for mental illness. But I want to focus on the first category today. We’ll save PFAs for another time.
Conviction of a Crime
Pennsylvania and Federal law differ on what level of offense results in losing your gun rights. Under Pennsylvania law, if you are convicted of a Felony offense, you can lose your right to possess firearms for life. Similarly, under Federal law, if you are convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” you are prohibited from possessing firearms Federally. Both sets of rules apply simultaneously, and consider convictions anywhere as long as they meet the criteria.
If you do lose your right to bear arms, you are pretty screwed. The laws provide mechanisms to get your rights back, but they involve pardons and certifications from top Federal officials. That being said, if you have the right set of facts, it can be done.
Even a DUI can cost you your guns
In Pennsylvania, DUIs are charged on an escalating scale. First offenses are treated relatively mildly, and subsequent offenses are met with increasingly stiffer penalties. While a DUI conviction will not normally lead to a loss of gun rights, enough of them in a short enough period of time will. 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 provides that “[a] person who has been convicted of driving under the influence … on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period” will be prohibited from transferring or purchasing firearms for a period of ten years.
Protect Your Right to Hunt
If you are a hunter or sportsman and have been charged with a crime, you owe it to yourself to talk to an attorney who understands the collateral consequences of any conviction or guilty plea. Once you lose your gun rights, they are very difficult to get back!
Attorney Justin P. Miller grew up in Centre County and understands gun culture. Call him today to discuss your rights under the law. 814-359-7529.