The U.S. Constitution enshrines some of the most important civil protections for American citizens. Among them is the right to lawfully possess a firearm, which is covered in the Second Amendment.

In general, there are relatively few limitations on the right to own firearms as a citizen. However, if you have certain criminal convictions on your record, those convictions could eliminate your right to lawfully own a firearm. If you are caught in possession of a firearm while having these convictions on your criminal record, you could very well face criminal charges related to gun possession.

What kinds of offenses preclude someone from gun ownership?

In general, the laws restricting the right to own guns apply to those with violent criminal backgrounds. Federal law restricts the right of firearm ownership for those convicted of any offense related to domestic violence. Those subject to domestic violence restraining orders also lose their right to legally possess a firearm.

In Massachusetts, those with felony convictions, as well as those with a history of violent offenses, drug offenses or previous firearms offenses likely will face restrictions on their gun ownership rights as well. The state requires that gun owners apply for a special state-issued card, and there are many conditions, like inpatient treatment for mental health issues or a dishonorable discharge from the military, that will prevent someone from securing a card.

Anyone who worries about whether their firearm possession is lawful or those facing charges related to gun ownership may want to get advice from an experienced attorney before taking any further actions.