Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 23.3 A. Firearms Conviction

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A “firearms or destructive device”[10] conviction[11] can have a number of immigration consequences, including: 


·         Triggering deportation as an aggravated felony conviction under INA § § 101(a)(43)(C) (illicit firearms trafficking),[12]  (E) (certain federally listed firearms offenses), [13] or (F) (crime of violence).[14]

·         Triggering deportation under a separate firearms conviction based ground of deportation.  See § § 23.8-23.18, infra.

·         Triggering deportation and/or inadmissibility as a crime of moral turpitude.[15]

·         Disqualification (even if the conviction is not an aggravated felony) from certain forms of relief from removal.  See § 23.5, infra.

·         Sentence enhancement upon prosecution for illegal re-entry.  See § 23.7, infra.


The INA does not provide for any firearms conviction (or conduct) based ground of inadmissibility.[16]  Therefore, a firearms conviction triggers inadmissibility only if it also qualifies as a crime involving moral turpitude, an offense relating to a controlled substance,[17] or constitutes one of a group of convictions with sentences totaling five years or more.[18]  If the conviction does not trigger inadmissibility, a noncitizen may obtain any benefit (despite the conviction) that would otherwise be unavailable to a person inadmissible on the basis of a criminal conviction, even if the person is deportable on account of a firearms conviction.  See § 23.5, infra.

[10] Unless specifically discussing destructive devices, we will refer to both as “firearms offenses.”

[11] See Chapter 7, infra.

[12] INA § 101(a)(43)(C), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(C).  See § 19.69, supra.

[13] INA § 101(a)(43)(E), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(E).  See § 19.70, supra.

[14] INA § 101(a)(43)(F), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F). See § 19.34, supra.

[15] See Chapter 20, supra.

[16] See INA § 212(a)(2)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A) (no firearms conviction ground listed).

[17] See § 23.4, infra. 

[18] See § 18.15, supra.



Ninth Circuit

Gil v. Holder, ___ F.3d ___, 2011 WL 2464782 (9th Cir. Jun. 22, 2011) (California conviction of carrying a concealed firearm, in violation of Penal Code 12025(a), is a firearms offense under INA 237(a)(2)(C), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C), triggering deportation).