The Second Amendment is one of the most frequently-cited additions to the constitution. It extends the right of individuals to lawfully bear arms and also to form a well-regulated militia with other individuals. Yet, most people make greater use of the first right more than the second.
They may possess firearms for sport or home defense. They may even require a firearm to perform their job, as is the case for law enforcement professionals or members of the military. Although people may take for granted that they have the right to lawfully possess arms regardless of their circumstances, there are a handful of scenarios in which it is not legal for someone to own a firearm.
After certain criminal convictions
Those convicted of certain criminal offenses, including misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, are subject to restrictions on firearm ownership in the future. Felony convictions can also affect someone’s Second Amendment rights.
After a mental health diagnosis
There are a variety of serious mental health disorders that might make someone a danger to themselves or others. Those diagnosed by medical professionals with particularly serious mental health challenges may become ineligible for future firearm ownership, as are those subject to involuntary commitment at a mental health hospital.
After dishonorable discharge from the military
Some people have to leave the military for reasons beyond their control, such as medical issues that prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities as a servicemember. Most people who leave the military do so after completing their term of service, but a small minority have to cease serving in the military because of some kind of misconduct. Those dishonorably discharged from the military typically lose their right to possess firearms after they exit the military.
After a loss of testamentary incapacity
Some people experience cognitive decline as they age. Others may develop cognitive challenges due to a traumatic injury or a serious illness. Anyone who does not have the mental capacity of an adult could end up losing their right to lawfully own firearms.
In some cases, those who have lost their right to firearm ownership can have those rights reinstated by going to court. Understanding the rules that limit the Second Amendment may help people protect themselves from prosecution or take steps to regain their rights.