Federal law prohibits those convicted of felonies and certain other offenses from possessing a firearm or body armor. That law is codified in 18 U.S.C. § 931, which provides as follows:
(a)In General.—Except as provided in subsection (b), it shall be unlawful for a person to purchase, own, or possess body armor, if that person has been convicted of a felony that is—
(1) a crime of violence (as defined in section 16); or
(2) an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of violence under paragraph (1) if it occurred within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
Other provisions in federal law make it a crime for a person who has been found to be mentally incompetent, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, subject to an order of protection, or otherwise disqualified, to possess a gun.
A related federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922g), provides for up to a 10 year prison sentence for a person convicted of possessing a firearm who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substance Act. This law has been used by federal prosecutors in recent years to obtain longer prison sentences for those who are in possession of a firearm unlawfully.
Those convicted of federal gun charges can face a lengthy sentence; often much more harsh than an equivalent state court conviction would produce. In situations where a firearm was used in a crime, there are mandatory minimums and sentencing enhancements that will further increase the sentence. Anyone facing a federal firearms charge is well advised to seek an attorney at once.