Can I Be Prosecuted for Trying to Buy a Gun?
Yes. Pennsylvania has a strict policy in place to guarantee the safety of its citizens; all prospective gun purchasers must pass both state and federal examinations before taking possession of their firearm. Any intentional misrepresentation during these background checks is considered a serious crime and will be prosecuted as a felony of the third degree.
Unfortunately, it’s really easy to make a mistake on the background check form due to a few tricky questions. The question that we see most prosecuted is this one:
- “Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?”
The operative words in this sentence are, “could have.” If you’re not sure if you could have gotten a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year, best to check with the courthouse first before filling out that form! You can check your original charges in your docket sheet, which you can access by following the directions listed here.
For example, if you received a DUI in PA and it was your first one, you may have received ARD, which is a program wherein you follow certain guidelines and stipulations, usually for a year, and then you can have the DUI expunged from your record. No jail time. However, could the judge have thrown you in jail? What if you had traffic violations along with your DUI? Time to call a lawyer or the helpful folks at the Courthouse and ask!
Another tricky question is this one:
- “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”
What if you spent time in a mental hospital but checked yourself in and out? What if you were a juvenile at the time? In order to get answers to these questions, it’s probably best to call an attorney, because that person will know the most current laws regarding these questions. (You can call us, of course!)
Because remember – it is a Felony offense to get any of these answers wrong, even if you’ve just made a mistake.
If you’d like to see the the forms related to buying a gun in Pennsylvania, click here. If you have questions about buying a gun in Pennsylvania, call the Firearm Records Unit at 717-783-5495.