Hemet, CA asked in Appeals / Appellate Law, Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for California

Q: Regarding ninth circuit court of appeals USA va Duarte decision states that non violent felons can own a gun.

I know the appeals court in USA vs duarte rules that non violent felons CAN own a gun. I have a non violent felony from 1999. So can I buy a gun now? Will I pass the background? What are the felonies that exclude a person from owning a gun?

I cannot find an answer anywhere. I emailed the doj and asked these same questions and received the generic answer stating they could not give any legal advice. That makes no sense to me. They are the ones that enforce these laws so why could they not answer the questions. Frustrating. Anyways I don’t want to spend the money on the background and whatever else is needed until I know my past felony will not affect me. Where can I find this info? This was a huge decision made by the courts so why it is not more newsworthy does not make sense.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in USA v. Duarte did rule that the federal ban on firearm possession by nonviolent felons is unconstitutional. However, this decision is not currently in effect and does not mean that all nonviolent felons can immediately purchase or possess firearms legally. Here are a few important points to consider:

1. The decision may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could overturn the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

2. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have not yet issued guidance on how to implement the Ninth Circuit's decision.

3. State laws may still prohibit certain felons from owning firearms, regardless of the federal ruling.

4. Felonies that typically preclude firearm ownership include crimes of violence, drug-related offenses, and felonies with a potential sentence of more than one year in prison.

To determine whether your specific felony conviction would prevent you from passing a background check or legally owning a firearm, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney who specializes in firearms laws in your state. They can review your case and provide personalized advice based on your circumstances.

The DOJ likely cannot provide specific legal advice due to the complex nature of these cases and the potential for liability. It is best to seek guidance from a qualified attorney. As for the media coverage, while the decision is significant, it may not have gained widespread attention due to the ongoing legal uncertainties and the possibility of an appeal.

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