Gun laws in Kentucky are fairly liberal. In fact, they are among the most liberal in the entire country. No state permit is required for Kentucky residents to purchase guns including rifles, shotguns, and handguns. It’s also completely legal to carry a gun, either openly or concealed, without a permit.
There are, however, some restrictions when it comes to owning, purchasing, and selling guns in the state of Kentucky. As Lexington, Kentucky criminal defense attorneys, we’re often asked about the restrictions on gun ownership under Kentucky law. One of the questions we get the most is, “Can convicted felons own a gun in Kentucky?”
Can Convicted Felons Own A Gun In Kentucky?
The quick, short answer is no—in most cases. A convicted felon can not legally own a gun in the state of Kentucky, with only three specific exceptions. In fact, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is itself a felony offense. The law also applies to people convicted of felonies as youthful offenders.
Kentucky Revised Statutes § 527.040 defines the specifics of this crime. It reads, in part, “A person is guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon when he possesses, manufactures, or transports a firearm when he has been convicted of a felony, as defined by the laws of the jurisdiction in which he was convicted, in any state or federal court…”
It’s worth noting that the language above defines a felon as someone convicted in any state, not just someone previously convicted of a felony within the state of Kentucky.
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is categorized as a Class D felony. If the firearm is a handgun, it becomes a Class C felony. The law also applies to people convicted of felonies as youthful offenders. Both are punishable by fines from $1,000 to $10,000. Class D felonies involve sentences from one to five years in prison and Class C felonies carry sentences of five to ten years in prison.
The only three exceptions to this law are for those convicted of a felony who have:
- Had their felony conviction vacated and expunged according to the procedures outlined in KRS § 431.073.
- Been granted a full pardon by the state Governor or by the President of the United States.
- Been granted relief by the United States Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended.
Selling Or Transfering A Gun To A Convicted Felon In Kentucky
It is not only a crime for a convicted felon to possess a gun in the state, but, under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 237.070 it is also a crime for anyone to sell or transfer a firearm to a convicted felon. Doing so can result in being charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines of up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
Possibility Of Federal Charges
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in association with another crime can also bring federal charges. Under Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1) it is against the law for a felon to ship or transport, internationally or interstate, a firearm or ammunition; to possess a firearm or ammunition in any way that affects commerce, or to receive a firearm or ammunition that has been shipped either interstate or internationally.
In most cases, someone being charged with possession of a firearm by a felon will be prosecuted in state court. If however, the charge stems from a more serious crime such as those involving drugs, or if the specific gun has been modified in a way that makes it especially dangerous, federal authorities may get involved.
Speak With An Experienced Kentucky Gun Law Attorney
If you are being charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in the state of Kentucky (or if you want to see about getting a previous felony conviction vacated so that you can legally own a firearm) you should contact a qualified and experienced Kentucky gun law lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait to speak with a lawyer, the less time you’ll have available to plan your defense. In the case of a charge like this, a poor defense could translate to years in prison.
At Baldani Law Group, our team has more than 100 years of combined experience practicing law and fighting for the rights of our clients in the Kentucky criminal court system. We will work tirelessly to make sure that you get the best defense and the best results possible for your case.
Consultations are free and confidential. Contact us online or call (859) 259-0727 to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case, answer any questions you may have, and discuss exactly what we can do to help you.