What You Don't Know Can't Hurt You: Supreme Court to Address Knowledge Requirement for Firearm Offenses [Updated June 21, 2019]   [open pdf - 762KB]

From the Document: "Perhaps the most well-known aspect of the federal framework of firearm laws is the Gun Control Act's prohibition on the receipt or possession of guns by persons who fall into specific risk-related categories. Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), convicted felons, fugitives from justice, aliens unlawfully present in the United States, and certain other persons are prohibited from possessing, receiving, shipping, or transporting in interstate commerce any firearms or ammunition. And a separate statutory provision subjects those who 'knowingly' violate Section 922(g) to criminal penalties. Criminalizing only 'knowing' statutory violations raises a deceptively simple question, however: to be guilty of a federal firearm-possession offense, must a person with a prohibited status simply know that he or she is possessing a gun, or must that person also know of his or her prohibited status under Section 922(g)? In other words, when prosecuting a violation of Section 922(g), does the government have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt only that a defendant knowingly possessed a firearm at a time when he or she fell into a prohibited category, or does the government have to prove that the defendant knowingly possessed a firearm and knew that he or she met the prohibiting criterion (e.g., requiring an alien to know that he or she was unlawfully present)?"

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10290
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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