As an American, it is your right to own a firearm. However, that is only if you haven’t committed a crime that is punished with the loss of that right. Unfortunately, there are many different charges which can result in your right to bear arms being rescinded.
One of these charges is domestic violence but it works a little bit differently than other violent crimes. To see what we mean, we will first look at what happens to your gun rights when you are convicted of a violent crime. Afterward, we’ll take a look at why a domestic violence charge acts a little bit differently when it comes to what happens to your ability to own a gun.
When Does a Violent Crime Charge Affect My Ability to Own a Gun?
The Second Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1791, is one sentence long. In that sentence, it sets forth every American’s right to own a firearm. However, there are further laws that affect whether or not a convicted criminal can legally own a gun.
Ohio Revised Code 2923.13 puts limitations on your ability to purchase or possess a firearm if you are or have:
- A fugitive from justice
- Under indictment for a violent felony offense
- Convicted of a violent felony offense
- Adjudicated a delinquent child for what would be a violent felony offense if they were older
- Under indictment for a felony drug offense
- Convicted of a felony drug offense
- Adjudicated a delinquent child for what would be a felony drug offense if they were older
Similarly, you have no right to own a firearm in Ohio if you are mentally incompetent or a known chronic alcoholic or substance dependent individual.
We’ll look at what crimes are regarded as a violent crime in regards to your gun rights in just a moment. First, notice that the crimes in that list are all felony offenses. This is important, as those convicted of a misdemeanor offense will not have their gun rights taken away. However, this isn’t the case with domestic violence. More on that in a moment.
What Counts as a Violent Crime in Regards to My Gun Rights?
There are quite a few violent crimes wherein a conviction as a felony would see your right to own a gun taken away from you. The crimes in question are:
- Aggravated Arson
- Domestic Violence
- Endangering Children
- Gross Sexual Imposition
- Human Trafficking
- Improperly Discharging a Firearm
- Inciting to Violence
- Inducing Panic
- Involuntary Manslaughter
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Aggravated Menacing
- Menacing by Stalking
- Aggravated Murder
- Patient Abuse
- Permitting Child Abuse
- Sexual Battery
Many of these crimes already have specific laws about how they will be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Violent crimes that fall under the category of a felony are easy enough, as any conviction of a violent felony crime will result in your gun rights being taken away.
However, not every one of the above-listed crimes has a clear law stating the level of crime. In general, a felony charge is one that is punished with more than a year of imprisonment. This is important to understanding if your gun rights will be taken away because the length of imprisonment is an important factor.
If you are facing charges for a crime that could be a misdemeanor or a felony, then being charged as a felony means that you would lose your right to own a gun if you were convicted. However, if that same crime is charged as a misdemeanor offense then you wouldn’t.
The exception is in the case of domestic violence charges.
Note, too, that just because you lose your gun rights following a violent crime it doesn’t mean you will never have them back. Ohio state law allows you to file a petition asking for a judge to restore them.
Except, that is, in the case of domestic violence charges.
Does a Domestic Violence Charge Affect My Ability to Own a Gun when it’s a Misdemeanor?
Domestic violence is a violent crime but it is most often charged at the level of a misdemeanor. This isn’t always the case. Domestic violence committed against somebody known to be pregnant or when there is a history of domestic violence will be charged as a felony.
Some people think that because domestic violence is most often a misdemeanor, it doesn’t have a very strong effect on your ability to own a gun. This is because The Gun Control Act of 1968 clearly states that you can’t own a gun if you are convicted of a crime that is “punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”
However, Congress amended The Gun Control Act in 1996 when they passed the Lautenberg Amendment. This amendment made it so that state and federal convictions of domestic violence are included as crimes that prohibit gun ownership. The writing of the amendment specifically makes note that misdemeanor domestic violence convictions will act to trigger the revocation of gun rights.
Therefore, even though gun rights are typically taken only when you commit violent felony crimes, a domestic violence charge of any kind will result in your right to own a gun being taken away from you.
I Don’t Want to Lose My Guns, What Should I Do?
The best way to avoid losing your guns from a domestic violence charge is to fight the charge with everything you’ve got. If you aren’t convicted, you won’t lose your right to possess a firearm.
If you’re facing domestic violence charges and are worried about losing your firearms, then call The Law Office of Brian Jones at (740) 883-3400 to speak to one of our experienced attorneys today. They’ll help you through every step of your case, from building a defense to fighting in the courtroom, and they’ll even be able to provide you with more information about petitioning an Ohio judge to have your gun rights returned should the jury return a guilty verdict.