How the Lautenberg Amendment can Affect Your Employment


The Lautenberg Amendment, sometimes referred to as the domestic violence offender gun ban, can be difficult to understand. The punishments for violating the amendment, however, are not ambiguous. Violation of the amendment will lead to a felony in federal court with a large prison sentence and potential fine. It is important that individuals understand what Lautenberg is and how it can impact your career, even if you haven’t been convicted of domestic violence. In this episode of our three-part series on the Lautenberg Amendment, we explain how the Lautenberg Amendment can affect your employability.

What is the Lautenberg Amendment?

The Lautenberg Amendment or the domestic violence offender gun ban is an amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968 that was intended to prevent the use of firearms in domestic violence offenses. To accomplish this, the Lautenberg Amendment prohibits firearms ownership by any individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor in which the facts of the case involve violence, threats of violence, or the attempted use of violence toward somebody with whom they have a domestic relationship. Typically, this type of conviction stems from a domestic violence charge.

How Can Lautenberg Impact Your Employment?

At its core, the Lautenberg Amendment prevents individuals convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm. Because of this, individuals will usually be in violation of Lautenberg if they work in a field that requires them to possess a weapon, such as:

  • Law enforcement
  • Military personnel
  • FBI Agents
  • Individuals who manufacture or sell firearms or ammunition

Any individual who is in possession of firearms required for their job and has been previously convicted of any type of domestic violence charge will be directly violating the amendment. The penalty for violating the amendment is a federal offense because Lautenberg is federal law. Typically, federal offenses carry more severe penalties than the states, and Lautenberg is no exception. Individuals convicted of violating the amendment will face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.

Are there any Exceptions to the Amendment?

There are currently no law enforcement exceptions or military exceptions to the amendment.  The Government Exception that allows felons to possess firearms in government or military service does not override Lautenberg, and the Amendment specifically restricted the Exception from allowing servicemembers with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from using firearms.  This actually created a loophole for a period of time where a servicemember with a felony conviction for domestic violence could carry a weapon but if the conviction was a misdemeanor they could not.  The Department of Defense later expanded their definitions to close the loophole and prevent firearms possession for any criminal conviction of domestic violence.

There is a minor caveat for the military based on the concept of what constitutes a criminal conviction.  Because nonjudicial punishment (AKA “NJP” or “Article 15”) does not have the same standards of due process as the court system, a domestic violence incident handled through that system does not trigger the prohibition of possession in Lautenberg.

The military has become very diligent about applying the law properly, and most servicemembers are familiar with DD Form 2760, “Qualification to Possess Firearms or Ammunition,” that requires them to sign acknowledgement of  limitations for possessing a firearm with respect to the Lautenberg Amendment.

Any individual who has been convicted of a qualifying offense may be prohibited from continuing employment in a role that requires that they possess a firearm. However, there are other routes an individual may take to have their second amendment rights reinstated. An individual could get a pardon or set aside of their conviction to legally regain their rights to possess a firearm.  Once their rights are restored, they may then seek employment in a capacity that involves handling a gun.

When Do Lautenberg Restrictions Go into Effect?

When you are charged with a felony, the Gun Control Act prohibitions will go into effect immediately. The prohibition on firearms possession at the federal level applies from the date of the filing of a felony charge or indictment in felony court.  For misdemeanors, you may be able to continue possessing firearms until convicted.  However, for the sake of prudence, it is advisable to immediately consider removing yourself from situations involving the possession of firearms. By doing this, an individual can ensure that they are not possessing a firearm as a prohibited person and remove any chance of a resulting felony conviction in federal court.

How Berry Law Can Help

Our team of firearms and criminal defense attorneys understand the uncertainty that surrounds the Lautenberg Amendment. Our team is committed to fighting for the constitutional rights of our clients, and this includes the second amendment rights to own a firearm. If you have ben charged with a criminal offense and are concerned about your future rights to own a firearm or have been charged in relation to the Lautenberg Amendment, contact one of our experienced Lautenberg Amendment attorneys today to ensure that your rights and your future are protected.

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