Learn your state's gun laws

You own a firearm. Your brother, though, gets convicted of a felony. He gets out of jail, and he's moving home. Are you legally allowed to have the gun in the house even though your brother is a felon and cannot own a firearm?

It's a complex situation, and, unfortunately, the answer is not any simpler. Much of it depends where you live. You may be allowed to own the gun, but you could be causing your brother to commit a crime by keeping it in the home.

Prohibiting Access

In the majority of states, it depends on access. If the felon has acces, that's seen as having some level of control over the gun, which is illegal. In some states, all you have to do is restrict that access. For example, having a hangdun in your unlocked desk may be illegal since anyone could access it and your brother now resides in the same house as you, but having the same handgun in a safe that is locked could be legal -- as long as you don't give your brother a key or tell him the combination. For instance, this is how Nebraska deals with the issue.

Not all states are so forgiving. California, known for its strict gun laws, could charge your brother with a crime. The same is true in Georgia, a state that has a reputation that's exactly the opposite of California's. It pays to know what your state considers possession of a firearm.

Who Is in Legal Trouble?

You or your brother could wind up in legal trouble. Some have said that the risk is higher for the convicted felon, who could be charged with possession even if the gun was technically yours. However, if you buy the firearm for your brother or knowingly provide it to him, you could also run into serious issues.

If you do wind up facing charges, especially because of a misunderstanding, you need to know your rights and legal defense options. Weapons charges are among the most serious in the country, and a conviction could stick with you for a long time.