Federal law establishes a baseline national standard regarding individuals’ eligibility to acquire and possess firearms. Under federal law, people are generally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors, or if they are subject to certain court orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental condition. However, federal law merely provides a floor, and has notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated significant risk factors for violence or self-harm to legally acquire and possess guns.
Arkansas has incorporated some of the federal prohibitions as state offenses. Arkansas prohibits any person from owning or possessing any firearm if he or she has been:
- Convicted of a felony (including cases where the sentence is suspended or the defendant is placed on probation) unless the case was dismissed or expunged or the person was subsequently granted a pardon explicitly restoring the ability to possess a firearm;
- Adjudicated mentally ill; or
- Committed involuntarily to any mental institution.1
A person who has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere prior to an adjudication of guilt for a felony is nevertheless considered as having a felony conviction for purposes of any law prohibiting possession of a firearm by certain persons.2
Arkansas law also grants the governor the authority to restore the right of person who has been convicted of a felony or adjudicated delinquent to possess a firearm under state law, without granting a pardon, upon recommendation of the chief law enforcement officer in the jurisdiction where the person resides, so long as the underlying felony or delinquency adjudication did not involve the use of a weapon and occurred more than eight years previous. (Note that federal law may still prohibit the person from possessing firearms.)
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Arkansas Background Checks section.
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- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-103(a), (b).
- Ark. Code Ann. §§ 16-93-303(c)(1).