The Gun Control Act of 1968 makes it unlawful for any person convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition. It also makes it unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of a firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the recipient has been convicted of such a misdemeanor.
As defined in the new law, a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" means an offense that:
(1) is a misdemeanor under federal or state law; and
(2) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
This definition includes all misdemeanors that involve the use or attempted use of physical force (e.g., simple assault, assault and battery), if the offense is committed by one of the defined parties. This is true whether or not the state statute or local ordinance specifically defines the offense as a domestic violence misdemeanor. For example, a person convicted of misdemeanor assault against his or her spouse would be prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms. Moreover, the prohibition applies to persons convicted of such misdemeanors at any time, even if the conviction occurred prior to the law's effective date, September 30, 1996. However, a conviction would not be disabling if it has been expunged, set aside, pardoned, or the person has had his or her civil rights restored (if the law of the applicable jurisdiction provides for the loss of civil rights under such an offense) and the person is not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recommends that persons subject to the prohibition relinquish their firearms and ammunition to a third party, such as their attorney, to their local police agency, or a federal firearms dealer. Continued possession can result in criminal penalties and the firearms and ammunition involved are subject to seizure and forfeiture.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives