Restoring gun rights in Washington State, or anywhere, can be a confusing thing for people. The laws regarding the restoration of gun rights at the state and federal level are inconsistent, and often times vague and hard to understand. When you add in an issue such as domestic violence to the mix, gun laws get even more murky.
Federal and state law both prohibit people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence “MCDV” from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Washington state gun laws, under RCW 9.41.040, allow for certain people who meet the eligibility requirements to have their gun rights restored by filing a gun rights restoration petition with the Superior Court. The federal government, however, does not recognize the Washington gun rights restoration process as rehabilitating someone with an “MCDV” on their record. So does that mean a domestic violence conviction in Washington state means you lose your gun rights forever? Well, that is a difficult question.
The answer has always been, and remains, MAYBE. But that MAYBE has evolved over the years, and now means that even with a domestic violence misdemeanor on your record you still stand a good chance of having your gun rights restored in the eyes of both the state and the federal governments. First of all, the federal definition of “MCDV” differs from the Washington State definition. Washington’s definition includes assaults against any family or household member – siblings, parents, cousins, maybe even roommates. The federal definition is much more narrow, and includes, for the purposes of the gun rights statutes, only intimate partners. That means that a WA conviction might not be a federal prohibitor, so the WA gun rights restoration process would restore a person’s gun rights in certain instances that did not involve a conviction for domestic violence against an intimate partner.
More recently, the courts made another distinction. Now, the FBI NICS division is of the opinion that the Washington definition of Assault 4 – DV, regardless of the facts of the case – does not contain the necessary elements to be deemed a “MCDV” under the federal firearm statutes. A conviction for Assault 4 – DV in Washington state still strips the offender of their gun rights at the state level, requiring a petition to restore gun rights, but those rights can be restored under RCW 9.41.040.
Gun laws are in a constant state of change, as are the courts’ and various agencies’ interpretations of those laws. Restoration of your gun rights in Washington State, and at the federal level, should be discussed with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you understand the nuances of the laws and the risks. Call the GREEN LAW OFFICE today to discuss the restoration of your gun rights.
*The information contained herein is for general discussion purposes and not intended as legal advice.