Can I still own a gun after a domestic violence conviction?
In Michigan, restrictions on gun rights start the minute an individual is charged with domestic violence. Once charged with domestic violence, an individual is prohibited from obtaining a license to purchase, carry, or transport a pistol (this is the tan card obtained from a gun store that must then be filed with the local police department).
What If I Am Charged with Domestic Violence?
If charged with domestic violence, regardless of guilt or innocence, an individual may not purchase a gun. Further, if an individual charged with domestic violence has a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), they will receive notice from the County Concealed Weapons Licensing Board that any existing CPL is suspended.
At the first court hearing after being charged with domestic violence, called an Arraignment, the court will almost always enter a “No Contact Order” preventing the individual charged from having contact with their accuser. Under Michigan law, a domestic violence no-contact order means that an individual cannot purchase, possess, or receive a gun and also cannot obtain a new CPL. Additionally, any existing CPL will be revoked by the Board.
Regardless of whether an individual is charged with domestic violence, bond and pretrial release court orders almost always contain a provision that the person charged is not, “to possess or purchase a firearm or other dangerous weapon.”
Can I Still Own a Gun After a Domestic Violence Conviction?
If ultimately convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in Michigan, an individual is then prohibited under Michigan law from obtaining a CPL for 8 years following the conviction. Federal law, however, is much tougher. For almost 50 years now, federal law has been rather clear that individuals who have convictions for domestic violence charges cannot legally possess firearms.
The Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, explicitly state that individuals may not own a firearm after a conviction for domestic violence, domestic assault, or equivalent crime, as well as when a domestic violence or harassment restraining order has been awarded.
Why Does Federal Law Matter When I Want to Purchase a Handgun in Michigan?
In Michigan, an individual must be 21 years or older to buy a pistol from a Federal Firearm License dealer (FFL) and 18 years or older to purchase from a private seller. Only Michigan residents may purchase a pistol in Michigan.
When purchasing a pistol through FFL dealer, the dealer will have the individual fill out ATF form 4473. The dealer will then call the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), provide the individual’s information to the FBI, and the FBI will then complete a background check and let the dealer know whether the individual is approved or denied.
The first line of ATF form 4473 states, “you may not receive a firearm if prohibited by Federal or State law.” Since a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is prohibited under federal law, a Michigan resident who has been convicted of domestic violence will not be permitted to purchase a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer located in Michigan.
If an individual is seeking to purchase a pistol from a private seller and not an FFL dealer, they must first obtain and fill out a pistol purchase permit from their local police agency (city police department or county sheriff’s department).
Michigan’s purchase permit specifically asks whether an individual has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. As such, a conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence will block an individual from obtaining a license to purchase, which is required to purchase any firearm in Michigan through a private seller.
What Can I Do to Retain or Restore My Gun Rights?
If you are wondering if you can still own a gun after being charged or convicted of a domestic violence offense, or are the subject of a restraining order, contact us today. We can make sure that you understand the extent to which your gun rights have been limited, and can work with you to see if you qualify to have your conviction expunged.
*During this difficult time, we are available for you remotely by phone or Skype.
Stephanie Achenbach received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University is 1996. As a political science major, she focused on world politics and studied abroad at the University of London, London, England. Ms. Achenbach her Juris Doctor degree from Michigan State University – Detroit College of Law in 2000. Admitted to practice by the State Bar of Michigan in 2000, she is also admitted to the Federal District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Ms. Achenbach began her legal career at a large firm and then returned to the Michigan Attorney General’s office, where she had clerked throughout law school. During her 10-year tenure as an Assistant Attorney General, she practiced in both the Criminal and Labor Bureaus as a trial litigator and appellate attorney. Ms. Achenbach has successfully tried hundreds of cases and drafted over 50 appellate briefs. Her appellate achievements also include an appeal from 2010 that resulted in a published Michigan Court of Appeals opinion. Today, Ms. Achenbach is a member of the Law Offices of Barton Morris, a criminal boutique law firm. As a Senior Associate, Ms. Achenbach handles state and federal criminal cases, including appeals. She also handles alcohol related driving offenses and license restitution matters.