The gun laws in Kansas are relatively favorable towards weapon ownership for most people as long as they abide by the state’s rules and regulations.

However, certain restrictions forbid the ownership of some weapons for some people, as well as prohibiting the carrying and use of firearms and other dangerous weapons. Violating these laws can result in federal felony offenses.

It’s important to understand who can own and carry weapons and the main restrictions that apply—especially if you have a criminal conviction already against your name that could affect your eligibility for gun ownership.

When is a weapon charge a felony?

Normally, gun ownership is permitted for any individual with a license in Kansas. However, state laws must follow baseline national standards that are outlined in federal law concerning the eligibility to acquire and possess firearms.

Under these laws, the simple possession of a firearm can lead to a felony charge in the following circumstances:

  • If a convicted felon possesses a weapon at any time
  • If a weapon is used in the commission of a drug crime
  • If a firearm is found in a person’s possession in “close proximity” to a drug crime
  • If users of narcotics or habitual drunkards are found in possession of a firearm
  • If a person is in the U.S. unlawfully
  • If an individual has fled an arrest warrant for a felony
  • If the person has been involuntarily committed for treatment of mental illness or substance abuse

State drug laws also prohibit the possession of firearms by most people on certain public grounds, including schools or any other state-owned building as designated by the secretary of administration. Violating these regulations can lead to a serious criminal charge.

What happens if a felon is caught with a gun in Kansas?

In Kansas, any felon convicted within the last 10 years who is found in possession of a weapon, firearm or even ammunition can be charged with a federal offense and face indictment by a grand jury.

What is the penalty for felony gun possession in Kansas?

Unlawfully possessing a firearm attracts a potential felony charge under Kansas gun laws. Also, anyone involved in a drug crime and in possession of a firearm can face serious felony consequences.

In Kansas, state prison terms for felonies run from one year up to life in prison. Felony crimes have a range of severity levels with accompanying prison terms that reflect these different severities.

What happens if a weapon is used during a drug crime?

Drug crimes in Kansas have their own sentencing grid, such is the severity with which they are treated. There are five levels of prison sentences ranging from 10 months to 17 years.

The criminal record of the defendant is also taken into account when sentencing is handed down. Keep in mind, though, that a felon in possession of a weapon is a federal offense that could involve an indictment by a grand jury and a possible mandatory minimum sentence of 5-10 years in prison (30 years for certain weapons, like machine guns).

The unlawful possession of a weapon during the commission of a drug crime may also come with a felony charge and more severe penalties than otherwise.

What is “close proximity” for a gun during a drug crime?

In Kansas, you can face felony charges if a weapon is found in “close proximity” to a drug crime. The firearm does not need to have been used in the commission of the crime but simply be found nearby.

This provides law enforcement with some latitude to file more severe charges against individuals accused of drug crimes if a gun or other weapon is found discarded near the crime scene.

Is it a crime to carry a gun while under the influence?

Carrying a loaded gun on your body or within reach in a vehicle while you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs is generally a class A misdemeanor in Kansas. This is the most serious type of misdemeanor but falls short of felony charges. Penalties for class A misdemeanors include a possible sentence of up to 12 months in the county jail and a $2,500 fine.

There are exceptions to the rule. You are unlikely to be the subject of weapons charges if:

  • You are carrying the loaded gun at your home, business, or property; or
  • You have the gun temporarily while defending yourself or someone else.

Can young people be charged with a felony for carrying a concealed handgun?

Generally, in Kansas, adults under the age of 21 are charged with a class A misdemeanor for carrying a concealed handgun anywhere other than in their own home, land or fixed place of business.

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, can you legally possess a firearm?

It is illegal to possess a firearm in Kansas if you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime within the past five years or are currently the subject of a domestic violence protective order that was issued after a hearing.

A violation of this law is usually treated as a Level 8 felony.

Defenses for weapons violations in Kansas

Many different types of weapons charges exist. If charged, your defense will depend on the precise nature of the alleged violation.

Defenses are often based on one of the following arguments:

  • Questionable actions of law enforcement officers when they investigated the case against and made the arrest: if questionable informants or entrapment were used or law enforcement violated your constitutional rights when gathering evidence (e.g., during a search), evidence may be discarded and the case dismissed.
  • No criminal intent (“mens rea”): not all weapons charges require the prosecution to prove this but if your charge does require it, a valid defense may be built around it.
  • Self-defense: a federal court has held that a felon still has the right to argue self-defense with a firearm, even though convicted felons cannot possess a firearm under federal law.

Often, such defenses employed in the right cases can lead to charges being dropped or the impact on defendants’ lives greatly mitigated.

However, the consequences for weapons violations in Kansas can be severe, including felony charges. Speak to the criminal defense lawyers at ITR Law in Topeka as soon as possible if you or a loved one has been arrested. Book your free consultation today.