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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Firearms Bans

A common misstep by criminal defense lawyers is to ignore the lifetime ban on firearms that results from conviction for misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (MCDV). 18 U.S.C. 922 (G)(9) prohibits any person who has been convicted of MCDV from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition (but interestingly,not including bows or black powder weapons).

The key elements of an MCDV are 1) the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon; 2) committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, or by a person who is or has cohabited with, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim. Note that this does not necessarily include boyfriends or girlfriends. Also, simply threatening use of force does not trigger the ban as it must be a threat of deadly force. There is no exception for military or law enforcement personnel. This means a conviction for a MCDV will often end a military or police officer’s career.

Finally, be careful telling your client the ban can be expunged. If the state didn’t take away the right to possess firearms (and they normally don’t for misdemeanors), an expungement of the conviction can’t restore the right under federal law.

Jason Kohlmeyer
Rosengren Kohlmeyer, Law Office Chtd.
Mankato
jkohlmeyer@rokolaw.com

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