Federal law excludes certain people from owning guns in the United States. One of these categories is any person who was convicted or indicted on a felony charge (such as with Federal arrest records) or persons convicted on domestic violence charges. Every person selling a gun is required to run a criminal history check to ensure that these laws are not being infringed upon on any individual wishing to purchase a firearm. A brief explanation is given in the video above. Though pertaining to Texas, similar laws are in place nationwide.
Many people confuse this issue and are under the impression that any criminal or Federal arrest records will prevent them from owning a gun. If you have an arrest record, this should NOT exclude you from purchasing a gun even if the seller checks your criminal history. Convictions that are related to minor charges or misdemeanors will not result in a gun purchase being denied. Due to the confusion, many firearm sellers will not sell a gun to any person who has a criminal or arrest record. In this event, it may be necessary to have these records sealed or expunged (removed from any database where the offense has been recorded).
Unfortunately, this process is not always as simple as it seems and it may be necessary to employ the services of an attorney to get the information removed from your record. Legal representation is however not a requirement for the expunction of a record and there are a few steps that you can take to get rid of the arrest information on your own.
There are a number of different service providers and government websites where the information is likely to be stored. You can check online to verify which websites have any negative data on you stored in their databases. You can simply request that the information be deleted by completing the opt-out form, which there is probably a link to, or by contacting customer support. This is especially true if you have evidence that the arrest did not lead to a conviction, if a conviction was overturned, the charges were dropped or you were released without the arrest ever leading to a trial. However, if you were convicted, you may need a court order to get the data deleted legally.
A court order must be obtained within the state or county where the arrest was made. You will be required to pay a fee to fill out an application for the data to be expunged. Keep in mind that having a Federal arrest record expunged is not the same as having a criminal record deleted. If you receive a court order that allows an arrest warrant to be removed, records of your conviction (criminal record) will still remain. On the other hand, if you have your criminal record expunged, the court order can be used to delete the arrest occurrence that was specifically related to the charge. If you had multiple arrests, it is unlikely that any of the records will be expunged.
In addition, you should be aware that you will need to wait for a specified period of time before you can apply for a court order. The time period varies between different states and can range anywhere from a few months to years, this can especially be true when dealing with Federal type arrest records and can be dependent on the type of conviction. There are certain additional circumstances when an arrest record will not be approved for expunction. These are mainly related to traffic violations, capital offenses or sex crimes. If you have received a court order to expunge the record, you can present it to a gun dealer as proof that the encounter is no longer on file. This is applicable only if you have an arrest file that relates to a lesser charge and will not help you if you have a criminal or Federal record history, such as a felony conviction.