Drug offenses are some of the most common criminal cases in Wyoming. A conviction for a drug crime can result in a broad range of criminal and collateral consequences.
Many of these have a major impact on your life. Even if you are able to avoid the most serious consequences of a drug conviction, you may be wondering if the conviction may still have a lifelong impact on certain rights, including your right to own a gun.
Under Wyoming law, a drug possession or drug paraphernalia charge or conviction will not prevent you from owning a gun. However, other convictions may restrict your ability to own a gun.
Wyoming Gun Laws
Gun ownership is not only common in Wyoming—it’s a part of the state’s history. As a result, Wyoming is known as a gun-friendly state. Compared to many other states, Wyoming imposes few restrictions on a person’s ability to purchase, own, and use a firearm.
However, Wyoming’s gun laws are far less favorable for those who have certain convictions on their drug charge record.
To carry a concealed weapon, you must have a concealed carry permit. Failure to obtain a permit can result in misdemeanor charges carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750, or both. However, Wyoming is a “shall issue” state.
This means that when you apply for a concealed carry permit, the state must honor your request, assuming you qualify and there is no reason for denial. This makes Wyoming gun laws among the most favorable in the nation for prospective gun owners.
Can You Have a Gun if You Have a Drug Possession Charge?
Despite the state’s relatively lax gun laws, Wyoming prevents people who have certain convictions from purchasing or owning a gun. Under Wyoming Statutes section 6-8-102, anyone who has a conviction for a “violent felony” cannot own a gun.
Similarly, if you have a conviction for assaulting or attempting to assault a police officer you cannot legally own a gun. The punishment for using or knowingly possessing a gun in this situation is a jail sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
In most situations, a drug possession charge is not considered a violent crime. Thus, a drug possession charge would not prevent you from owning a gun under Wyoming law.
However, there are situations in which a drug conviction may result in you being ineligible to own a gun under federal law.
Federal Gun Laws for Those With a Drug Possession Charge
When it comes to the interaction between state and federal law, federal law provides a “floor,” and states, for the most part, are able to provide additional protections to residents.
However, they cannot provide fewer protections. This is exactly the case in Wyoming because, under federal law, it is illegal for anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” to own a gun.
This means that under federal law, you may not be able to legally own a gun if you have a drug conviction or are currently a drug user. However, Wyoming laws do not contain the same restriction and only limit people with certain violent felony convictions from owning a gun.
The Bottom Line
While there is a federal law prohibiting drug users from owning or using a gun, this particular law is challenging to enforce. In part, this is because there is a difference between having a drug possession conviction and being an active user.
In other words, just having a drug possession charge on your record will not disqualify you. Instead, the government would need to show that you were an active drug user. The result is that, in practice, prosecutions of this type are rare.
That said, if you are on probation for a drug offense, the judge may restrict your right to own or use firearms as a condition of probation. Thus, while you would not be ineligible to own a gun forever, it could impact your gun ownership rights while you are on probation.
Are You Facing Wyoming Drug or Gun Charges?
Both gun and drug charges are taken very seriously in Wyoming. If you are charged with a Wyoming gun crime or drug offense, reach out to Cowboy Country Criminal Defense. Our experienced team of lawyers has extensive experience protecting our clients’ rights, including their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
We understand the importance of gun ownership and do everything possible to preserve your rights, regardless of the allegations. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Wyoming criminal defense lawyer, call 307-243-4978 today. You can also reach us through our online form, and one of our attorneys will reach out to you shortly.