The Second Amendment to the Constitution grants US citizens the right to bear arms, but there are limitations on this right at both federal and state levels. Federal laws establish a national standard concerning individuals' eligibility to obtain and possess firearms, and state laws specify the weapons rights of their citizens. Kentucky’s laws tend to be rather lenient compared to other states. Still, individuals convicted of violating these laws or perpetrating crimes while in possession of a weapon face fines, as well as the possibility of a prison sentence.
Kentucky’s gun laws are some of the most liberal in the country. The state does not require residents to acquire a state permit to purchase guns, including handguns, shotguns, and rifles. It is also legal to openly carry or concealed carry a gun without a permit. However, there are state restrictions when it comes to purchasing, selling, and owning guns. In most cases, a convicted felon may not legally own a gun, and possessing a firearm as a felon is considered a felony offense.
Statute 237.070 of the Kentucky Penal Code concerning the prohibition against the sale or transfer of firearms to a convicted felon states that individuals who have been convicted of a felony are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. This includes felonies committed in any state, not just those within Kentucky. Any firearm found in the possession of a convicted felon will be forfeited.
Kentucky Revised Statutes KRS 527.040 concerning possession of firearms by a convicted felon defines the specifics of the crime. It explains that a person will be charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon if they have been found guilty of the possession, manufacture, or transport of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony in any federal or state court.
Three exceptions to this law exist for individuals convicted of a felony who also have:
Kentucky classifies guns into two categories, firearms and handguns. A firearm is considered to be any weapon that utilizes an explosive to expel a projectile. A handgun is recognized as such a weapon that has been designed for one-handed firings, such as a revolver or pistol. Whether a gun is classified as a firearm or handgun will affect the charges and fines, as described below.
State law bans individuals convicted of a felony from possession of a firearm if they were convicted of the felony after July 15, 1994, and possession of a handgun if they were convicted of the felony after January 1, 1975.
A convicted felon possessing a firearm is considered a Class D felony, which carries a penalty of one to five years in prison. If the firearm in question is a handgun, the crime turns into a Class C felony, which carries a penalty of five to ten years in prison. Both of these felonies may include fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 in addition to prison terms. This sentencing applies to individuals classified as youthful offenders when they were convicted of a felony.
KRS 527.040 further specifies the potential punishment. It states that if an individual who has been found guilty of a crime other than possessing a firearm while a convicted felon was discovered to be in possession of the firearm during the commission of that crime, the individual will face more severe punishment if this offense was the second or subsequent incident of violation.
Additionally, under KRS 237.070, it is considered a crime for anyone to transfer or sell a firearm to an individual who has been convicted of a felony and is prohibited from possession of firearms by Statute 527.040. Breaking this law can result in the charge of a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of a jail sentence of up to 90 days and fines up to $500.
Crimes that involve a firearm are punished more severely. Charges such as robbery or assault result in increased penalties when compounded with weapons charges.
While Kentucky’s courts typically prosecute individuals with charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, federal authorities may intervene in certain circumstances. According to Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1), it is a federal crime for an individual convicted of a crime resulting in over one year of prison time to transport, ship, or receive firearms or ammunition within interstate or international commerce, or to possess firearms or ammunition in a manner affecting this commerce. This crime carries a penalty of a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Federal law enforcement may also become involved if the firearm is used in the trafficking of illegal drugs or if it is automatic, modified, or may be considered exceptionally dangerous.
If you are a convicted felon and have been charged with possession of a firearm, you face up to ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines. These charges are serious and require experienced legal counsel to properly address them. You should immediately contact a qualified Kentucky weapons law attorney to protect your rights and safeguard your future. The longer you delay in hiring an attorney, the less time is available for organizing your defense.
A founding attorney at Nashville’s Weatherly, McNally & Dixon, P.L.C., Patrick McNally boasts over 35 years of experience providing counsel for individuals in a variety of difficult criminal defense cases. Our team has the knowledge, skills, and resources to offer the diligent, comprehensive representation you need for the best possible results. If you or a loved one is contending with a weapons charge in Kentucky, we are available to discuss the charges, outline the options, answer your questions, and prepare your defense. Schedule your free initial case evaluation by filling out the intake form on our website or calling (615) 200-9559.