Can minor offenses mean permanently losing gun rights? The answer may shock you

Most people know that convicted felons are stripped of their gun ownership rights. Many don’t realize that the same Federal law (18 USC 922(g)(1)) sweeps up less serious offenders (18 USC 921(a)(20)(B)).

If you were convicted of a crime where the maximum possible jail sentence was over two years, even if that crime was very minor, you are effectively no longer allowed to purchase or possess a firearm.  Many crimes fall into this bucket that come across as very minor and totally unrelated to guns.

A first DUI in Massachusetts, which is not a felony, carries a maximum of two and a half years.  Drinking and driving in the Bay State means no more guns.  This is the only state that does so after a first DUI.

Does drinking and driving equal irresponsibility with guns?

Does drinking and driving equal irresponsibility with guns?

While nine states and DC never penalize drinking and driving alone so much as to revoke gun rights (though one will after a second time blowing 0.20 or higher), three do so upon a second conviction.  In another 19 the threshold is the third conviction, while the in the remaining 18 states that line is crossed at the fourth instance. 

This varies somewhat if you’re underage, a truck driver or blow closer to double the limit.

Let’s think about how this compares to marijuana possession.  Someone loses gun rights for a first DUI in Massachusetts, but can possess pounds of marijuana without facing this risk.  Yet in Arizona one can basically never lose your gun rights for a simple DUI no matter how habitually convicted, while possession of any amount of marijuana there will trigger this loss.

In Hawaii, the maximum jail sentence for possession of drug paraphernalia is five years.  Simply having a bong in the Aloha State can cost a person their ability to have a gun without taking heat from the Federal government.  Nevermind that there are over a dozen states where having that bong is completely legal, and only in 8 states is it illegal under any circumstances.

In DC, where marijuana has been legalized, possessing any concentrates still carries a five year maximum jail term. A gram of wax? No more guns. This is true in four other states as well and while none of those have fully legalized marijuana, it is legal for medical use in two of them.

The law can be a confusing and fickle beast at times.  Be aware of the legal landscape around you!  Being unaware could cost you more than you think.