When Does Gun Possession Become a Federal Crime in California?

When Does Gun Possession Become a Federal Crime in California?

Gun laws can be super confusing, am I right? There’s like a million diffrent state and federal laws about who can own guns, what kinds of guns are allowed, how you can carry them, etc. It’s a lot to keep track of! This article will break down when exactly having a gun turns from legal to illegal and becomes a federal crime in California.

Lifetime Bans

Ok, first up – there are certain convictions in California that will ban you from ever legally owning or possessing a gun again. These are considered lifetime bans. According to this site, convictions for the following crimes mean you can never legally own a firearm again:

  • Any felony
  • Misdemeanor domestic violence
  • Being addicted to an illegal drug
  • Being found mentally incompetent
  • Being involuntarily committed to a mental institution
  • Threatening public officials
  • Various juvenile offenses

So if you’ve been convicted of any of those, it’s an automatic lifetime ban on owning firearms in California. No exceptions, end of story.

10-Year Bans

Now if you don’t have one of those lifetime ban convictions, there’s still a bunch of other misdemeanor crimes that will ban you from having a gun for 10 years. These include:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Making criminal threats
  • Stalking
  • Various firearm violations

So if you’ve got a conviction for any of those within the last 10 years, you cannot legally possess a gun in California during that time period.

Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person

Ok, now let’s say you don’t have any of those convictions on your record. There’s still other ways having a gun can be illegal in California.

One big one is possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. This is basically someone who isn’t allowed to have guns being caught with one anyway. According to this overview, you can’t possess a gun in California if:

  • You renounced your U.S. citizenship
  • You’re a fugitive from justice
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the military
  • You’re in the country illegally
  • You’re subject to a restraining order

Possession of a firearm by any of those prohibited people is a felony offense. And it comes with some pretty serious penalties – up to 10 years in state prison according to California law!

Federal Gun Laws

Now here’s where the federal part comes in. There’s also federal laws about who can and can’t have guns that apply nationwide. So even if you follow all the California state laws, violating a federal law can turn your gun possession into a federal crime.

Some key federal restrictions on firearms according to this overview:

  • Felons cannot possess firearms or ammo that crossed state lines
  • Fugitives from justice cannot possess firearms
  • Controlled substance users and addicts cannot possess firearms
  • People subject to domestic violence restraining orders cannot possess firearms
  • Illegal aliens cannot possess firearms
  • People dishonorably discharged from the military cannot possess firearms

So if you fall into one of those prohibited categories, having a gun is illegal per federal law even if California allows it. And the penalties can be harsh – up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted!

Straw Purchases

Another big federal no-no is straw purchases. This is when you buy a gun legally yourself, but then give or sell it to someone who isn’t allowed to have guns. Very illegal!

According to California’s overview, straw purchases can bring felony convictions and up to 10 years in jail and $2,500 in fines. Yikes!

Bottom Line

Gun laws are super complex, but basically boils down to – if you’re prohibited from having firearms, don’t get caught with one! Lifetime bans, 10 year bans, prohibited persons, straw purchases – there’s a ton of ways having a gun can turn into a state or federal crime with big penalties here in California.

The moral of the story is – if you’re unsure about your specific situation, talk to a lawyer! They can look at your criminal record, review all the state and federal laws, and give you a definitive answer on whether it’s legal for you to purchase or possess firearms. Better safe than sorry!