The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of United States citizens to bear arms and to establish or join a militia for the protection of the citizenry. While the U.S. has very few limitations on the ownership of firearms compared to many other countries, there are situations in which someone can run afoul of the law without intending to do so.

If you have certain criminal convictions or other blemishes on your record, a firearm that you believe is lawfully yours could actually make you in violation of the law and at risk of criminal charges.

Certain felony offenses preclude gun ownership

Congress passed The 1968 Gun Control Act in order to ensure that citizens with felony criminal records or a protection order taken out against them would not have the same access to firearms as those without a criminal history.

Later, Congress expanded the law to include misdemeanor violent crimes and domestic abuse charges or any criminal offense directly related to domestic violence even if the charge itself was not a domestic offense.

Other circumstances that affect legal gun ownership

Criminal charges aren’t the only things on a background check that could prevent someone from buying a gun or cause issues if they already own one. Those who have received a dishonorable discharge from the military or a diagnosis of certain mental health conditions may find that they can no longer legally own a firearm.

If you get caught in possession of a firearm with certain criminal charges, a restraining order, specific mental health conditions or a dishonorable discharge in your record, the firearm that you thought was legal might actually result in criminal charges. It’s wise to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.