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Require Prohibited People to Turn in Their Guns

Require Prohibited People to Turn in Their Guns

What does this solve?

Requiring people to turn in their guns when they become legally prohibited from having them helps keep guns out of the wrong hands. Under federal law, there is no affirmative requirement that people who are prohibited from having guns turn in firearms that they already have.

This makes it easy for felons, domestic abusers, and other people who would otherwise fail a background check to keep their guns. Ensuring that firearms do not remain in the hands of those who are legally prohibited from having them helps enforce our laws that prohibit people with dangerous histories from being armed.

How it Works

Requiring people prohibited from having guns to turn in guns they already own simply enforces existing law. Federal and state law already provide that certain categories of people, for example felons and domestic abusers, cannot have firearms. Background checks are essential to making sure these people cannot buy new guns. But it is equally important to make sure that they cannot hold onto the guns they already have.

Although federal law prohibits several categories of people with dangerous histories from having firearms, it does not affirmatively require firearms to be turned in once a person becomes prohibited nor does it set forth a process for them to do so. It is up to the states to make sure that prohibited people actually turn in their guns. The process typically involves state and local courts and law enforcement.

A strong law includes a swift timeline and requires a prohibited person to turn in the gun to law enforcement or a licensed firearms dealer. It also allows law enforcement to seek a warrant and seize firearms that are not promptly turned in, and requires any purchase or carry permit to be turned in.

By the numbers

Myth & Fact


Relinquishment laws are just an elaborate way for the government to confiscate guns.


Relinquishment laws simply enforce existing laws that prohibit certain categories of people with dangerous histories from having guns. If a person is subsequently allowed to have guns again—for example, because they are no longer under a prohibiting restraining order—they can get back the guns they turned in.

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Require Prohibited People to Turn in Their Guns

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