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Domestic violence charges can affect one's right to buy a firearm

Oftentimes, a domestic dispute comes down to nothing more than a "he said, she said," argument. Unfortunately, some people will claim -- even falsely -- that an act of domestic violence has occurred. This is very serious, as being charged with domestic violence can affect a person's rights in Arizona, including the right to purchase or own a firearm.

Under the Lautenberg Amendment in the U.S. Code, it is against the law to sell or dispose of a firearm to a person if there exists "reasonable cause to believe" that the person has committed an act of domestic violence, even if it was merely a misdemeanor charge. Moreover, even if a person's domestic violence conviction is set aside, they still might not be able to possess a firearm, particularly if the offense involved a serious injury, the use of a deadly instrument or if the person harmed was under age 15.

Moreover, under the federal Brady Act, if there exists "reasonable cause to believe" that a person has an order for protection against them and there is a "credible threat" that they might harm someone, they cannot be sold a firearm. Once a court establishes an order for protection following a hearing, the Brady Act prohibitions will be triggered, with a few small exceptions that are not present in the Lautenberg Amendment.

This is only a very basic overview of the Lautenberg Amendment and the Brady Act. It is not meant to serve as the basis for any legal action and cannot be construed as legal advice. Those who are facing domestic violence charges and are concerned about their right to purchase or own a firearm may want to bring the matter up with an attorney, who can assess their situation and inform them of their rights and options under the law.

Source:, "Domestic Violence & Prohibited Firearm Possessors," Debbie Weecks, October 2009

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