Firearms, including guns, are devices that can be used as weapons. The user or holder of a firearm may choose to use it responsibly or irresponsibly. It is therefore important to ensure that controlled use is implemented in order to protect the public. DUI offenders can be referred to as irresponsible because they have failed to follow rules. Public concerns about lenient laws on DUI convicts and loose management of firearm purchase and ownership have escalated in recent days. The Federal Government has basic rules on eligibility to own a firearm in the country. DUI and gun laws are interlinked by three prohibitions under the Federal laws as shown below.
The federal Gun Control Act of 1968, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 922, prohibits the sale of firearms to any person who:
- Has been convicted or indicted for a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year;
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance
Let us see how DUI gun laws come about based on the three Federal law prohibitions that may directly apply to DUI offenders.
1. Has been convicted or indicted for a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year
Most states treat fourth and subsequent DUI charges as felony offenses. The punishment includes more than one year of prison time in a state prison. Therefore, four or more DUI crimes automatically disqualify a person from being able to purchase and own a gun, or any other firearm for that matter. A person who has been imprisoned for a felony is known as a convicted felon. But there is relief for felons who have had their rights restored, though rare and unlikely because only some rights are restored.
2. Is a fugitive from justice
Sometimes people charged with DUI crimes fail to obey the court orders such as appearing in court at certain times, or even avoiding it completely. Some who have been put into community service fail to do all the hours required. They will be punished accordingly. in addition, it will go into the records that they are running away from justice. Such a person will always be looked at as irresponsible and unlawful because of that one single act of disobeying justice orders. All court records are accessible at any time. Background checks on the person before he or she is allowed to purchase a gun will reveal this lawlessness.
3. Is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance
DUI arrests are made when an arresting officer is able to fully proof that the driver went overboard when drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs and substances. There are set limits for such consumption and exceeding the limits is going against the law. DUI gun laws will definitely be against the convicted person because excessive consumption of the substances then driving a motor vehicle is already an illegal act.
Gun control and DUI policies need to be reviewed so that there is more information on when a DUI offender is allowed or restricted from owning a gun. Comprehensive DUI gun laws should be formulated to provide a better legal basis when dealing with such cases. Attorneys should also be more conversant with the gun laws and carefully apply them to DUI cases when the need arises.
About Guest Post Author:
Christopher J McCann is a Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney serving Southern California, including Orange County and Los Angeles County. You can follow my tweets on Twitter at @CJM_Law_Firm or contact me personally for assistance.