Because domestic violence sometimes escalates when an abused partner leaves the relationship or presses charges, there are both state and federal laws that prevent those convicted of domestic violence from owning or possessing firearms. Let’s take a closer look at these laws – and what they mean for both those accused of domestic violence and those who are victims of domestic violence.
Under Washington State law, any person convicted of a crime involving domestic violence is banned from possessing firearms indefinitely. Examples of these crimes could include domestic violence assault, domestic violence stalking, domestic violence criminal tresspass, or restraining order violations – even some domestic violence misdemeanors can result in losing the right to carry a gun.
In addition, those who are awaiting trial on a domestic violence charge may not legally possess a firearm and those who are found not guilty of a domestic violence crime because of insanity are not legally allowed to carry a gun. Even if you carry a firearm as part of your job – such as a policeman – you may not own a gun after a domestic violence charge in Washington State.
Under federal law, a person who is under a restraining order may also not possess a gun. Those who are found to be unlawfully in possession of a gun may face criminal possession charges – a felony that could result in heavy fines, prison time, and other consequences.
The ban on owning or possessing a gun after a domestic violence conviction is indefinite, but those who have been banned may petition the court to restore their right to carry. Generally, three years must pass before the petition, the offender must have completed all of the conditions of the sentence, and the offender must not have any current criminal charges pending.