Does my criminal record prevent me from buying a gun in Pennsylvania?
Everyone makes mistakes in life. Some mistakes lead to criminal charges and criminal records. Criminal records can make it more difficult to find jobs and housing, and some convictions also cause a person to lose constitutional rights, such are the right to bear arms. A person that wants to lawfully possess or purchase a gun should review BOTH Federal and state laws. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. People that are caught unlawfully possessing or attempting to purchase a gun are often charged with felony offenses.
Criminal Records and Pennsylvania Gun Possession Prohibition
Pennsylvania law, found at 18 Pa.C.S. 6105, contains a list of convictions that prevent a person from possessing or purchasing a gun. Most of the offenses are severe, like murder, rape, manslaughter, robbery, and burglary. However, some non-violent and non-severe offenses like Corruption of Minors and Impersonating a Law Enforcement Office also trigger the prohibition.
Drug convictions trigger the prohibition IF the conviction was punishable by more than two years. It does NOT matter what sentence the judge actually imposed. What matters is the maximum sentence that the judge could have imposed, what is referred to as the statutory or legally maximum sentence. A person with 3 or more DUI convictions within a 5-year period of time is prohibited from possessing a gun under Pennsylvania law. CAUTION, a second offense DUI may not invoke Pennsylvania’s gun prohibition, but, depending upon the severity of the DUI, it may triffger a Federal prohibition based upon the severity of the misdemeanor.
Federal and Pennsylvania Gun Possession Prohibition
Aside from criminal records, both Federal and Pennsylvania law prohibits the following people from possessing or buying a gun:
- fugitive from justice
- a person who has been deemed incompetent or has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- an illegal alien
- a person who is the subject of an active final protection from abuse (PFA) order that prohibits the person from possessing a firearm
Restoration of Gun Rights
Many people want to restore their 2nd Amendment right to possess a gun. If the restriction is based upon a criminal record or prior conviction, such as a conviction for Drug Delivery, the only way to restore gun rights is to have the conviction set aside through the pardon process. A person interested in a pardon should consult with an experienced defense attorney in the state in which the conviction occurred. Attorney Jason Dunkle has successfully obtained a Pennsylvania pardon for clients.