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.
State law in Kentucky prohibits possession of a firearm by anyone convicted of a felony after July 15, 1994, and possession of a handgun by anyone convicted of a felony after January 1, 1975.1 These prohibitions include a person who was convicted of a felony offense as a “youthful offender” in the state.
For information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Kentucky Background Check Procedures section.
Kentucky has no laws specifically preventing the purchase or possession of firearms by:
- People convicted of violent misdemeanors;
- People subject to mental health-related court orders;
- Persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders; or
- People with substance use disorders.
However, Kentucky makes it a Class D felony for a person to knowingly solicit, persuade, encourage, or entice a licensed dealer or private seller of firearms to transfer a firearm under circumstances which the person knows would violate the laws of Kentucky or the United States; or to knowingly provide to a licensed dealer or private seller of firearms what the person knows to be materially false information with intent to deceive the dealer or seller about the legality of a transfer of a firearm; or to procure another to engage in such conduct.2
See our Firearm Prohibitions policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 527.040. In addition, Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.070 prohibits knowingly transferring a firearm to a person who has been convicted of a felony.
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 527.090(2).