What does the Second Amendment cover when it comes to felons protecting their lives and the lives of those they love? A viewer wrote to the USCCA explaining that he is a felon and knows he is not allowed to handle a firearm. However, he lives with his wife, who owns a gun, and his daughter. Should the threat of death or great bodily harm arise, could he use his wife’s firearm?
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As always, it is best to check local listings. State, or even sometimes city or county, laws will vary by location. Attorney Tom Grieve, though not giving legal advice, would say yes, this viewer can use the gun, but there are some qualifications to go with it.
Local Gun Laws
The biggest factor is, of course, local law. Does where the person live allow a necessity privilege? Necessity privilege allows the possession of a firearm for a lawful self-defense encounter. To clarify the question, as well, Grieve points out that felons are not prohibited from handling a firearm but from possession.
If someone is physically touching — handling — an object, that’s possession. If the object is within reach and within the concerned party’s knowledge, that’s constructive possession. In general, if an individual has knowledge of and access to an object, that can be considered possession.
If the state in which a self-defense incident occurs does not have a necessity defense, it would be illegal to use a gun for protection as a felon.
If a felon has a gun safe in his home, the chances that he or she will be held accountable for that depend on the individual’s probation officer. A probation officer would have to prove the individual has knowledge of and access to the gun in order to escalate the situation.
It’s possible the officer would turn a blind eye and focus on more important matters. It’s also possible the officer will take the felon in. A lot will have to do with the officer as well as the felon being monitored.
It’s a tricky area of law. The easy button would be to not commit the original felony in the first place. However, what’s done can’t be undone. So in cases of self-defense, know the laws in your area and find a lawyer familiar with the Second Amendment.