Few legal matters are as politically charged as the debate over Second Amendment rights. A large portion of the American population cherishes and vehemently defends its right to bear arms. The amendment itself reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Though there has been considerable debate over the interpretation of those words and whether they refer to an individual’s right to possess firearms, in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court explicitly maintained that the Second Amendment does accord and protect an individual’s right to bear arms.
But did you know that your Second Amendment rights are not always guaranteed? Other legislation that has passed in the years following the Bill of Rights has molded the scope of the Second Amendment, and certain actions can permanently strip you of your right to own or even handle a firearm. Read on to find out some of the actions that could cause you to lose your Second Amendment rights.
1. Committing a felony
If you are convicted of a felony in the United States, even a non-violent felony, then you will permanently lose your right to keep and possess firearms. This is probably the most well-known way to lose your Second Amendment rights and covers a broad swath of actions that could lead to a ban on your gun ownership. There is some variation on these rules from state to state, but for the most part this federal law is nationally enforced thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968 and reinforced by certain provisions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) from 1986. So, if you want to keep your guns, don’t commit any felonies.
2. Transporting weapons across state lines
Our states are not united when it comes to gun laws. Thanks to FOPA, it is not in itself illegal to carry guns with you across state lines, but you do have to be aware of and follow the individual rules of each state. Firstly, there are laws about how the gun must be transported (unloaded, stored, and inaccessible by driver or passengers). Also, some states, like New York, have incredibly restrictive gun control laws which can lead to felony weapons possession charges. You may pass through a state like New York with your gun, but if you make a non-emergency stop, such as staying overnight in a hotel, you could find yourself in seriously hot water that could lead to you losing your Second Amendment rights. Know the gun laws of the states you are traveling through and make sure you follow them.
3. Doing drugs
Though it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what level of drug use disqualifies someone from owning a weapon, this federal law established in the Gun Control Act is generally meant to prevent those who frequently use drugs or have addictions from gun ownership. Not only does drug use mean you legally cannot own a weapon, if you are found in possession of a weapon as a drug user it can mean up to 10 years in prison. If you want to own a gun, you have to stay clean or risk extremely harsh punishment.
4. Dishonorable discharge
As with drug use, if you have been dishonorably discharged from the military for any reason, you no longer have the Second Amendment protection to bear arms and you could land in jail for up to 10 years for doing so.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are other certainly other ways to restrict or lose your Second Amendment rights, such as having a restraining order against you or if you come into possession of a firearm through false pretenses. Gun law can be very convoluted so your best bet for maintaining your right to bear arms is to consult an attorney with years of knowledge and experience in defending weapons charges. The above is intended as general information so please give us a call to discuss the details of your specific weapons-related situation.