The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is a federal gun law that manages who can own or possess a gun in the United States. It is the Brady act that mandates the background checks that many talk about with regard to gun ownership, and the act has been a law since 1994.

Under the act, ownership of a gun is limited for both business and personal use in a variety of situations. Anyone who has a criminal history of conviction for one or more crime that carried a prison sentences of one or more years cannot own or possess a gun, says the act. In most cases, that means those with felony convictions lose their gun rights.

Fugitives, illegal aliens and U.S. citizens that have renounced their citizenship are also prohibited from possessing guns. Anyone who is shown to be addicted to an illegal or controlled drug or substance can be prohibited from gun ownership, as can a person who has a history or diagnosis of mental incompetence.

If someone has been discharged from any branch of the military in a dishonorable way, they lose some of their gun rights. Someone who has been convicted of only misdemeanor domestic violence or who is the subject of any active restraining order is also prohibited from purchasing a gun.

Since gun laws talk both about ownership and possession, you might be breaking the law by simply possessing a gun in some of these circumstances. That means if someone else leaves a gun at your home or in your car and it is later found, you might pay the price for it. Understanding your rights and how to create a defense against weapons charges if you are prohibited from possessing a gun can help keep you from losing more of your rights through the criminal processes.

Source: FindLaw, “Gun Laws,” accessed Sep. 04, 2015