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Criminal charges

unlawful possession of a firearm

Under federal law, it is a criminal offense for certain persons to possess a firearm, or for other persons to sell a firearm to those persons. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (located at 18 U.S.C. §922) generally prohibits the sale, possession, shipping, or transporting of firearms to or by a person who:

• Has been convicted of or is under indictment for:

o a federal crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year (usually a felony)

o a state crime that is not classified as a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year

o a state crime that is classified as a misdemeanor under state law and is punishable by more than two years imprisonment

• Is a fugitive from justice

• Is an unlawful user of or is addicted to any controlled substance

o although some states have legalized the use of medical or recreational marijuana, marijuana use is illegal under federal law, and the federal government considers persons who use marijuana legally under state law to be unlawful users of a controlled substance

• Is under the legal age for possession and purchase of firearms (generally 21 for handguns and 18 for long guns such as rifles and shotguns)

• Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States or has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa

• Has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces

• Has been determined by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority to be a mental defective—defined as a danger to self or others, or lacking the mental capacity to manage the person’s own affairs—such as a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case, or being found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (see definitions at 27 C.F.R. 478.11)

• Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced citizenship

• Is subject to a court order (that was issued after a hearing of which the person received actual notice and had an opportunity to participate) that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child, and includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the intimate partner or child, or prohibits the use or attempted or threatened use of physical force against the intimate partner or child

• Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

Most states also have laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by persons who have been convicted of a felony offense under state or federal law. And many states prohibit the possession of firearms by persons convicted of misdemeanors related to stalking, child endangerment, disorderly conduct, battery, and assault—and persons with domestic-violence related convictions and court orders (orders of protection, protective orders, restraining orders). These state laws regarding the unlawful possession of firearms are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, federal law prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms. This includes those convicted of or indicted for crimes punishable by more than one year in prison, fugitives, unlawful drug users, minors under the legal age for firearms possession, illegal immigrants, those dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, individuals deemed mentally defective by lawful authorities, those who have renounced U.S. citizenship, individuals under restraining orders related to intimate partner violence, and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. In Texas, similar to federal law, state statutes also restrict firearm possession for individuals with felony convictions and certain misdemeanors, particularly those involving violence or domestic issues. Texas law can be found in the state's penal code, which outlines the specifics of firearm possession prohibitions and the consequences for violations.

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