Before 1996, the federal law that regulates the sale, possession, and transfer of firearms and ammunition in the United States (The Gun Control Act of 1968) prohibited 8 groups of people from possession or buying firearms. Those groups included: (1) people with felony convictions, (2) fugitives, (3) unlawful users or addicts of a controlled substance, (4) those that have been deemed by a court to be mentally defective or committed or a mental institution, (5) undocumented immigrants and those immigrants granted entry with nonimmigrant visas, (6) those who have been dishonorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces, (7) those who have renounced United States citizenship, and (8) those that are prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm by specific court order.
Then in 1996, The Lautenberg Amendment was passed by Congress to add a 9th group of people who are prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm: those that have been convicted of a domestic violence offense. In order for a particular crime to qualify as a domestic violence offense two criteria must be met. First, an element of the crime must include “proof of the use or attempted use of physical force, or threaten use of a deadly weapon against the victim.” Second, the offender must be a “current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of a victim; a person with whom the victim shares a child, a person with whom the victim has cohabited or is cohabitating as a spouse, parent, or guardian; or a person ‘similarly situated’ to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.” This can also include common law marriages and people in intimate relationships that share a home.
In Kentucky, there are two misdemeanor crimes that are specifically named domestic violence offenses: Assault 4th Degree Domestic Violence Minor Injury and Assault 4th Degree Domestic Violence No Visible Injury. However, these are not the only crimes that could be considered a domestic violence conviction under The Lautenberg Amendment. If any of the following misdemeanor crimes involve an act of domestic violence a person could be at risk of those their gun rights: Assault 4th Degree, Menacing, Stalking 2nd Degree, Criminal Abuse 3rd Degree, Terroristic Threatening 3rd Degree, and Harassment.
Fortunately, if you have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, you may now be eligible to get your conviction expunged and have your gun rights restored under a new Kentucky law. If would like to find out if you are eligible to expunge your domestic violence conviction or have questions about gun rights and the expungement process, contact us at Unconvicted.com.
Sources: Congressional Research Services Report to Congress and Office of the United States Attorneys