Domestic Violence and Firearms
I was recently asked to provide an opinion on a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction and whether that person could own or buy a firearm. It's a relatively easy question to answer, because federal law prohibits persons convicted of domestic violence:
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
18 USC s. 922(g)(9). Further, one cannot (or should not be able to) purchase a firearm if he already has a domestic violence conviction on his record as there is a corresponding crime the person transferring the firearm commits if he/she sells the firearm to the person convicted of a domestic violence offense. 18 USC s. 922(d)(9). ATF Form 4473 (the form one fills out at a dealer) includes a question about whether the buyer was convicted of a domestic violence offense. See question 11.i. on Form 4473.
This is a serious issue and many people do not understand that if you have a domestic violence conviction, you can simply not own or possess or buy a firearm. Period.
There is good news though. Mississippi allows for certain convictions to be expunged, or erased, from your record as if it never happened. Miss. Code. Ann. s. 99-19-71(1) provides that:
Any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor, excluding a conviction for a traffic violation, and who is a first offender, may petition the justice, county, circuit or municipal court in which the conviction was had for an order to expunge any such conviction from all public records.
Domestic violence falls into this misdemeanor expungment statute. (See generally Op.Atty.Gen. No. 2009-00612, Mitchell, November 6, 2009, 2009 WL 4882704. "A domestic violence first time offender can get an expungement pursuant to Section 99-19-71, as that Section provides that a person convicted of a misdemeanor, excluding a conviction for a traffic offense, and who is a first offender, may petition the court for an order of expungement.") Many times, it is simply a matter of the proper paperwork being filed with the court and other times the person petitioning may be required to appear at a hearing.
Once that conviction is expunged and the proper databases notified, a person, with the only disqualifying factor being a conviction for domestic violence, will no longer be prohibited from owning or buying a firearm. Certain felonies are expungeable as well which will be the topic of a future blog post.
If you are interested in discussing a domestic violence conviction or have any other questions about firearms rights and possible restoration, please contact us to discuss.