Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Can a "Federally Prohibited Person" still obtain a Massachusetts FID Card?

An applicant seeking to possess certain firearms in Massachusetts may obtain a Massachusetts Firearm Identification Card (FID) even if they have been previously convicted of certain offenses. Under state law, as long as at least five years have passed since the completion of the imposed sentence on certain non-violent felony offenses as either an adult or juvenile; convictions for the use, possession or sale of controlled substances; conviction of certain non-violent misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for more than two years; or the conviction under any law relating to weapons or ammunition for which imprisonment may be imposed, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall issue the applicant a Firearms Identification Card.

However, an applicant with any criminal record should proceed extremely cautiously. Even though Massachusetts has issued an FID, the possession of a firearm by certain individuals convicted of the above offenses may still be federally prohibited from possessing firearms, and doing so is a crime punishable by up to ten years in federal prison.

Every time you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, the dealer will complete a form ATF 4473, and will perform a NICS check with the FBI to ensure you are not a "Federally Prohibited Person" as defined in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)). The information supplied on form ATF 4473 will be run through millions of electronic records in state and federal databases to see if the person trying to buy the firearm meets one of nine different categories of reasons for which federal law would prohibit them from being in possession of a firearm. Under federal law, the conviction of many of the crimes described above will create a permanent federal prohibition on firearms ownership.

Should the instant records check discover information which establishes you are ineligible to possess a firearm, your transaction will be denied (i.e., you can't purchase the gun), but the story does not end there.

A Brady denial means it is illegal for you to be in possession of any firearms, even those you already own at home, and even if you were able to obtain a Massachusetts FID Card. If you want to avoid possible seizure and forfeiture of your guns, get them into storage with either an FFL or transferred to a friend or relative who you know is legal to possess firearms and who agrees to hold them and not let you have them until your situation is resolved. You may need to memorialize this transfer on an FA-10 or E-FA-10, if you are in Massachusetts.

Once you get your guns safe and receive the statement of reasons for your denial, you should contact an attorney who is familiar with the field of firearms law.

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