We all are aware of the fact that the life of a felon is hard. One mistake is all it takes to turn your life upside down.
What we often overlook is the difficulties faced by a felon’s family members. Being the loved ones of a felon is very hard. You have to struggle through many difficulties. Face the criticism of the society.
A felon’s punishment does not end with the end of their jail sentence. Or, parole or probation. If anything, it is the beginning of their punishment. The real punishment is to go through their life after prison. Facing challenges in education, professional field. Getting refused several job opportunities.
What is more punishing is to live without several civil rights? A felony conviction can cause the suspension of several civil rights. In some instances, this affects the family member of a felon too.
This article is for the family members of a felon. Especially, for the wives who wonder if they can own a gun because their husband is a felon.
The Right to Bear Arms
The right to bear arms is a fundamental right enjoyed by U.S. citizens. According to this, U.S. citizens have the right to own weapons such as guns. This right is often practiced for self-defense. A person can lawfully carry a firearm in public. But, the weapon should stay out of plain sight. Illegally owning a firearm is a serious offense.
In most states, a gun owner is required to get a license or a concealed carry permit. In some states, it is really difficult to get the right of owning a weapon. They do not issue permits easily.
- American Samoa
- North Mariana
However, there are some states where you do not need a permit to own a gun. These include:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Rules To Be Followed
There are some states where you do not need a permit to own a gun. But you have to follow some minimal rules.
1 Illinois: You have to carry the gun unloaded. And, enclosed in a case. Or, firearm carrying box, shipping container, or another container.
2 Maine: You must inform if you are carrying a gun without a permit.
3 Mississippi: In public, you have to carry the gun in a belt/shoulder holster. Sheath, purse, handbag, satchel, or other similar bags. A briefcase or fully enclosed case.
4 Montana: You can have a gun outside of the city limit.
5 New Mexico: You have to carry the gun unloaded
6 North Dakota: Only North Dakota residents can own a gun without a permit. And, you must inform if you are carrying a gun without a permit.
7 Wyoming: Only Wyoming residents can own a gun without a permit.
Restrictions to the Right to Bear Arms
The federal and state law of the United States has some laws for firearm possession. It prohibits certain people from possessing a firearm. The possession of any firearm by these ineligible people is a criminal offense. Though the state laws of these restricted individuals differ from state to state.
Here are some categories that are common all over the U.S. The people who are ineligible to own a firearm are:
1 Someone convicted of a felony crime. A crime that is punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
2 Fugitives from justice.
3 Illegal users of any controlled substance. Or, those who are addicted to any controlled substance.
4 People declared by a court as mentally defective. Or, someone who got committed to a mental institution.
5 Illegal aliens. i.e. those who were admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa.
6 Someone with dishonorable discharged from the Armed Forces.
7 Those who have renounced their United States nationality/citizenship.
8 Those subjected to certain types of restraining orders.
9 Someone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
Can A Felon Possess A Firearm?
A felon loses several civil rights and liberties after being convicted of a felony. One such right is the right to possess a firearm and ammunition.
The federal law prohibits felons from owning arms. Under federal law, the maximum sentence for a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 to 15 years.
A felon can own a firearm. A felon can own a gun after they successfully restore their rights. But, in the case of felons convicted of a violent felony offense. For example, where someone got harmed or killed. They permanently lose their right to carry a firearm.
- Oregon law allows a felon to apply for a concealed carry permit. If the person is guilty of a felony because of insanity.
- North Carolina law allows a felon to get a concealed carry permit. Only if he got pardoned.
- Vermont does not have any legal requirements for the possession of firearms. And that includes felons too.
- In Kentucky, a person has to get a full pardon. Either by the governor or the President.
- In Louisiana, a person can own a firearm. After 10 years from the date of completion of his jail sentence. Or, probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
- In Minnesota, a felon is allowed to have a permit to own a firearm. This can be done after 10 years, because of restoration of their civil rights. If the person got convicted of any other crime of violence during these 10 years. Then they cannot get the permit.
- In South Dakota, a felon can get a concealed carry permit. After 15 years, since the person was last discharged from prison. Or, jail, probation, or parole.
- In Wyoming, a felon needs to get pardoned to get a concealed carry permit.
Can I own a Gun if my Husband is a Felon?
Having a firearm in the house is often very assuring if something happens to you one day. At least you will have the means to protect yourself. But, what if you have a family member who is convicted of a felony. Can you still own a firearm? What if you keep it locked away and your husband has no access to it?
According to the federal law of the United States, a felon is prohibited from owning a gun. Not only felons, but it’s also anyone ineligible for firearm possession. (Mentioned above: Restrictions to the Right to Bear Arms). Possessing a gun despite being ineligible is a felony offense.
What If The Gun Is In Your Possession And Your Husband Does Not Have Any Access?
As long as you do not have any disqualifying reasons, you can own a firearm. However, your possession of a gun could get your husband arrested or worse. Because some state law says that a felon and a firearm cannot stay under the same roof.
Police and court would consider your husband in possession of the gun. If it is in the same house that he resides in. Even if the gun is locked up. And, your husband has no access. It will not make a difference.
Now, you must be wondering, why? With no access to the firearm, your husband is not guilty. According to law, there are two types of possession. They are actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is when someone has actual control or custody over the firearm. Constructive possession is when someone knows about a firearm. And, the ability to control it.
So, if a legal authority discovers a firearm in your house. They can arrest your husband based on constructive possession. And this can put you at risk too. Since you know he is a felon and you still kept a firearm in the house. You can get charged for aiding him in constructive possession.
Even if you argue that he did not have any access to the gun. The legal authorities can argue otherwise. It will get very difficult to prove he didn’t have access to something in your common house.
But this depends on the state law of the state you reside in. It is possible to live in the same home as a felon and possess a firearm, in some states. Having a felon in the house will not prohibit you from possessing a firearm. But you have to take some measures.
All firearms must be in the control of the legal owner. Either you physically carry it on your body. Or, store the firearm in a place that the felon has no access to. A safe, a locked drawer, a room the felon does not have access to can be possible storage areas.
Again, the state law differs from state to state. So, before taking such a crucial step consult with a legal figure. Check it with an attorney from your residing area.
A wrong decision can have a huge negative impact on your life. And can also cause problems in your husband’s life.