Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor? Yes.

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Background Checks | October 7, 2022

Man looking at a computer screen with a rifle and a background check document that shows a misdemeanor wondering can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor?

Anyone undergoing a background check for concealed carry permit or who has paid for gun but failed background check might be wondering, can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor?

The answer is yes, but only sometimes.

The reason for the uncertainty is because every state has its own statutes and requirements for both carry permits and gun ownership.

While some misdemeanors will cause individuals to fail a gun background check, other misdemeanors convictions won’t cause any problems. So, the first thing to do is find out exactly what shows up on a background check for a gun. This can be done quickly using a name based search.

This guide outlines every state’s gun laws and restrictions, so anyone can find out the answer to, can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor?

What Criminal Charges Disqualify You From Owning a Gun?

Gun background checks can be confusing for most individuals, especially since the laws are often enforced by the ATF, a federal agency, but many of the laws that the ATF are enforcing are decided at the state level.

Each states has its own laws for who can purchase a gun, what kind of gun can be sold, who can sell it, how long the waiting period is for a purchase, and more.

And, the federal government still has plenty of firearm laws that states must abide by, resulting in significant overlap on certain issues.

But, in most cases, the deciding factor about whether a misdemeanor will disqualify a person from gun ownership, revolves around the crime itself and charge. In general, if the crime resulted in no jail time, or less than one year, then in many states, a misdemeanor won’t prevent gun ownership.

Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor Through a Licensed Dealer?

One of these is the background check that is required for an individual to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. Although certain state laws may cause some confusion when it comes to who is able to own a firearm, the federal law is quite simple as far as the background check requirements are concerned.

Screenshot of ATF website page for rules and regulation with yellow arrow pointing to an update about the rule which on equal application of background check requirements to all persons, natural or juridical.

Individuals with a felony conviction on their record are not able purchase a firearm under federal law, regardless of the felony conviction and regardless of how much time has elapsed since the crime took place. When it comes to misdemeanors, individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor for domestic violence are not eligible to purchase a firearm. However, other misdemeanors will not cause an individual to fail a gun background check.

Although this makes the question of, can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor, seem like a fairly simple one, the truth is that state laws make this far more confusing.

For example, the domestic violence definition alone has been altered by many states in an attempt to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from obtaining a firearm. Multiple states have extended the meaning of domestic violence to include friends or roommates as well as the individual’s significant other. Still, other non-violent misdemeanors should still allow most people to be able to pass a gun background check without any trouble.

What Can Prevent You From Passing a Background Check for a Gun?

There are plenty of things that can prevent an individual from passing a background check for a gun. As mentioned, virtually every felony will result in the failing of the background check, as well as misdemeanors involving domestic violence.

Screenshot of ATF website page for firearms with yellow arrow pointing to the definition and elements of the offense misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

Another common reason for individuals being denied a firearm purchase due to a background check is because the individual committed a felony when filling out the background check form. One thing that some individuals fail to realize is that the NICS background check system is able to check an individual’s entire criminal history in a matter of seconds. This means that any crime that the individual has ever been charged with will be present on the check.

Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor if You Lied in Filling Out Forms?

Many individuals will lie when filling out the ATF Firearms transaction record and claim they have not been convicted of a crime when they in fact have.4 Lying about your criminal history on a government form is considered perjury and is a felony offense. By committing a felony, the individual will technically be banned from ever purchasing a firearm again if they are convicted.

Individuals who have active warrants for their arrest will also fail a background check as the NICS background check system also checks for active warrants on any individual attempting to purchase a firearm.

Various state laws are also far stricter than the federal firearms laws, resulting in many individuals failing gun background checks that they would have passed had they been in a different state.

Sometimes individuals are denied a gun purchase due to mental health reasons. Since there is no gun-specific mental health screening this is fairly rare and will only occur if the individual had been charged with a crime and the judge in the case deemed the individual unfit to own a firearm.

Finally, both unlawful immigrants and individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from the United States military will be denied gun purchases. However, immigrants who are in the United States legally are able to purchase a gun the same as a U.S citizen.

If You Have a Misdemeanor Can You Have a Gun?

As mentioned, it is possible in every single state for individuals who have a misdemeanor conviction on their record to own a firearm. Generally, it will depend on the misdemeanor that the individual was convicted of, but so long as the crime was not violent in nature, there should be no problem in passing the NICS background check.3

However, like many laws that differ between the state and federal levels as well as vary from state to state, there is still a lot to consider. This is especially important for individuals with criminal records who are wondering Can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor?

Can You Pass a Background Check With a Dismissed Misdemeanor?

Passing a background check with a dismissed misdemeanor should be no problem in most cases. In general, the NICS is only interested in convictions, although the background check system that the FBI uses to perform gun background checks include all criminal history information including charges that were later dropped, this should not factor into the decision.

Screenshot of FBI website page for NICS firearms check with yellow arrows pointing to statistics of firearms-related background check conducted by NICS from November 1998 to July 2022.

Keep in mind that this only applies to criminal charges that have been officially dropped. Individuals who have been indicted for domestic violence for example, will not be able to purchase a gun until the charges have been resolved.

Can You Pass a Background Check With a Misdemeanor DUI?

Many individuals think they are under the impression that a DUI will play a major role when it comes to passing a gun background check, however this is not usually the case. Even in the case of employment-related background checks, DUI’s are rarely an automatic disqualifier, unless the job has to do with driving such as a UPS or Amazon delivery driver.

Screenshot of a website page with yellow arrows pointing to background checks with DUI.
When it comes to gun background checks, this is also the case. There are currently no states that specifically outlaw individuals with misdemeanor DUIs on their records from purchasing a firearm. Since a DUI shouldn’t fall under the “domestic violence,” aspect of the federal gun background check laws, NICS background check should be no problem to pass.

Can You Buy a Gun With a Misdemeanor Possession?

Although it depends on the state, most individuals with a misdemeanor possession conviction on their record will be able to purchase a gun. In certain states, more serious possession crimes will prevent individuals from purchasing a gun as the crime may have a penalty of two years or more in jail.

Although most states refer to the federal law regarding domestic violence when denying gun purchases, some states prevent individuals who have been convicted for a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of two years or more in prison from purchasing a firearm.

Can a Convicted Felon Own a Gun After 10 Years?

Some states have laws that prevent background check agencies from viewing information about a crime if it is older than 10 years, regardless of the crime’s severity. However, these are only state laws and tend to cause a lot of confusion when it comes to crimes that are older than 10 years.

Although certain states don’t allow background check agencies to view this information, this is only intended to help individuals find employment after serving prison or jail time. The record of the crime still exists and can be viewed by various government agencies, such as the FBI during a background check.

Generally, individuals who have been convicted of a felony will be banned from purchasing a gun for their entire life.

What Disqualifies You From Owning a Gun in Each State?

The difference in gun laws from state to state makes it hard to make any statements about gun laws that don’t have some kind of exception.

The best thing to do is to look into the firearm laws for the state that you wish to purchase a firearm in.

What Disqualifies You From Owning a Gun by StateGun Ownership Laws by State
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Alabama (AL)Gun Ownership laws in Alabama
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Alaska (AK)Gun Ownership laws in Alaska
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Arizona (AZ)Gun Ownership laws in Arizona
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Arkansas (AR)Gun Ownership laws in Arkansas
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in California (CA)Gun Ownership laws in California
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Colorado (CO)Gun Ownership laws in Colorado
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Connecticut (CT)Gun Ownership laws in Connecticut
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Delaware (DE)Gun Ownership laws in Delaware
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Florida (FL)Gun Ownership laws in Florida
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Georgia (GA)Gun Ownership laws in Georgia
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What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Illinois (IL)Gun Ownership laws in Illinois
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Indiana (IN)Gun Ownership laws in Indiana
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What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Minnesota (MN)Gun Ownership laws in Minnesota
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What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Missouri (MO)Gun Ownership laws in Missouri
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What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Nebraska (NE)Gun Ownership laws in Nebraska
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Nevada (NV)Gun Ownership laws in Nevada
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in New Hampshire (NH)Gun Ownership laws in New Hampshire
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in New Jersey (NJ)Gun Ownership laws in New Jersey
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in New Mexico (NM)Gun Ownership laws in New Mexico
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in New York (NY)Gun Ownership laws in New York
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in North Carolina (NC)Gun Ownership laws in North Carolina
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in North Dakota (ND)Gun Ownership laws in North Dakota
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Ohio (OH)Gun Ownership laws in Ohio
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Oklahoma (OK)Gun Ownership laws in Oklahoma
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Oregon (OR)Gun Ownership laws in Oregon
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Pennsylvania (PA)Gun Ownership laws in Pennsylvania
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Rhode Island (RI)Gun Ownership laws in Rhode Island
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in South Carolina (SC)Gun Ownership laws in South Carolina
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in South Dakota (SD)Gun Ownership laws in South Dakota
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Tennessee (TN)Gun Ownership laws in Tennessee
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Texas (TX)Gun Ownership laws in Texas
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Utah (UT)Gun Ownership laws in Utah
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Vermont (VT)Gun Ownership laws in Vermont
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Virginia (VA)Gun Ownership laws in Virginia
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Washington (WA)Gun Ownership laws in Washington
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in West Virginia (WV)Gun Ownership laws in West Virginia
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Wisconsin (WI)Gun Ownership laws in Wisconsin
What Disqualifies you from owning a gun in Wyoming (WY)Gun Ownership laws in Wyoming

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Although some individuals may have heard that misdemeanors disappear from your record after a certain amount of years, this is usually not the case. The majority of misdemeanors will stay on an individual’s record forever.

Some states have laws that prevent misdemeanors from showing up on an individual’s record in a few different ways.

Screenshot of ATF website page for firearms with yellow arrow pointing to a compilation of state laws and published ordinances related to firearms.

The first is allowing the record to be sealed or expunged if the individual petitions to do so. Other states may have laws that cause certain misdemeanors to be automatically sealed after a certain amount of time. Even fewer states will have laws that cause all criminal records to disappear off an individual’s record 7-10 years after the crime has taken place.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of states do not have these laws. In most cases, the path to sealing a record will be difficult or impossible and there will be no way to prevent background check agencies from finding criminal records.

Furthermore, none of the above methods to get a misdemeanor off your record will apply to federal background checks. Background checks performed by the FBI, such as a gun background check, will always be able to find criminal records even if they have been sealed. FBI background checks are able to view an individual’s entire criminal history, even crimes that have been sealed or are more than 10 years old.

How Long Does a Firearm Background Check Take?

Many individuals may be under the impression that a firearm background check will take just as long as a normal FBI background check,2 about two weeks. However, the NICS background check is slightly different from the normal fingerprint-based check that the FBI performs for employment purposes.

A firearm background check should take less than a day to complete and is generally completed almost instantly and results will be available in a matter of minutes.

How to Find Out if You Can Purchase a Gun?

There is a lot to consider in your criminal history before purchasing a gun. Individuals wondering “Can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor?” should perform a background check on themselves.

This can be done using an online background check service such as the one on the top of this page or by performing a federal background check on yourself for the most accurate information possible.

How to NICS E Check Myself?

Currently, it is not possible to perform a NICS check on yourself as this system is reserved for only certain agencies to use. Individuals who are looking for more information about the way the NICS background check system work and how to get a NICS check can use the FBI website page regarding firearm background checks.

Screenshot of FBI website page for NICS with yellow arrows pointing to information related to NICS availability and process when individuals buy firearms.

Understanding the different gun laws and background check procedures in each state can be confusing. Luckily, individuals with the question: Can you pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor? will likely have nothing to worry about in most states.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor

Can You Get Your Gun Back After a Misdemeanor?

Yes, most states will allow individuals with non-violent misdemeanor offenses on their record to still purchase a firearm, assuming all other conditions are met. Only misdemeanor convictions regarding domestic abuse are outlawed at the federal level.

If You Have a Misdemeanor Can You Pass a Background Check?

Yes, only domestic violence misdemeanors will cause an individual to fail a background check in most states.

What Happens if You Fail a Background Check for a Gun?

There is usually little that can be done after failing a background check. Appealing to the FBI is usually the best course of action.1

Can You Pass a Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

Most background checks will overlook misdemeanors that are non-violent but this will depend entirely on the reason for the background check. Some employers will not pass anyone with a criminal history of any kind.

What To Do if You Paid for Gun but Failed Background Check?

Individuals who paid for a gun but failed the background check has several options. Generally, the best thing to do is find information about the return policy for the firearms dealer.

Why Was My Gun Purchase Delayed?

Gun purchases are often delayed due to the NICS background check system being overloaded or due to mandatory waiting periods being required due to state law.

How Can I Check the Status of My NICS Delay?

Individuals will not have access to their NICS status. The best course of action is to speak with the firearms dealer that initiated the check for a status update.

What Disqualifies You From Owning a Gun?

There are tons of different things that can disqualify an individual from owning a gun, most often it will be due to a felony or violent misdemeanor conviction appearing on their record.


References

1United States Government. (2022). Firearm-Related Challenge (Appeal) and Voluntary Appeal File (VAF). FBI. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics/national-instant-criminal-background-check-system-nics-appeals-vaf>

2United States Government. (2022). Identity History Summary Checks (Rap Sheets). FBI. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks>

3United States Government. (2022). National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). FBI. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics>

4U.S. Department of Justice. (2022). Firearms Transaction Record. ATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from <https://www.atf.gov/file/61446/download>

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