On its face, the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. But state and federal courts have established that this is a limited right and one that is subject to removal upon the conviction of certain crimes. This article will provide information on what may cause an individual to lose their gun rights in Minnesota and answer some of the deeper questions folks often have regarding complicated restoration laws.
What crimes cause the loss of firearms rights in Minnesota?
Minnesota law provides that certain persons are not to possess firearms. The reasons an otherwise eligible person may have their rights removed include:
- Conviction of a crime of violence
- Conviction of a felony
- Conviction of a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor drug possession or sale crime under Stat. 152
- Conviction of certain gross misdemeanor offenses including harassment or stalking
- Conviction of certain misdemeanor domestic assault offenses
- Being subject to a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)
How long will I lose my rights?
The length of a firearm right revocation depends on the type and severity of the offense. Generally, the revocation lasts for three years or a lifetime. The conviction for a felony that is not a crime of violence results in a restriction period that ends upon completion of the sentence or discharge from probation, whichever comes later. Lifetime bans are the result of a conviction of a crime of violence (but applies only to those who are discharged from their sentence or court supervision on or after August 1, 1993).
Over time, the offenses that are considered crimes of violence have changed. For example, theft of a motor vehicle has not been considered a crime of violence since 2014. In 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that individuals that were convicted of this offense prior to the change in statute are given the benefit of the amended statute and not subject to the lifetime ban. But, individuals who were subject to a ten-year ban under the previous version of the crime of violence provision (which was amended in 2003) are now subject to a lifetime ban.
If I lost my firearm rights under federal law, how does Minnesota law apply?
Under federal law, the conviction of any felony offense–or of certain misdemeanors–causes a lifetime ban unless the right has been explicitly restored by a state jurisdiction.
After a conviction for a crime of violence, Minnesota law allows courts to restore gun rights if there is “good cause” shown. Minnesota courts have held that society’s interest in public safety is the most significant factor a court should consider and that the private versus public benefit analysis articulated in the Minnesota expungement statute is “highly relevant.”
What if I was convicted of a crime in another state?
The simplest answer to this question is, “it depends.”
Under Minnesota law, loss of Minnesota firearm rights occurs if a person is convicted in Minnesota or in another state of the same or similar law. Minnesota can only restore rights in this state based on convictions that occurred here. Depending on where the conviction occurred, and the laws of that state, it may be possible to have rights restored in the original state and then apply for a permit in Minnesota.
Do lost gun rights automatically restore or do I need to petition the court to have them returned?
For individuals that were subject to a three-year firearm ban, gun rights automatically restore after three years so long as the person was not convicted of another loss-producing offense during the three-year time. Firearm rights are automatically restored to those who have been convicted of felonies in Minnesota after the completion of the sentence and all probation, as long as the conviction was not for a crime of violence.
A person who is subject to a lifetime ban as a result of a crime of violence conviction must have their rights restored via a specific court order. A firearm restoration order is generally achieved via petition, a subsequent hearing, and court order, but receiving a pardon results in restoration as well.
Will having my conviction expunged restore my lost firearms rights?
No. Expunging the underlying offense which caused the firearm rights to be lost will not restore the firearm rights. And, it is important to be careful when thinking about expungement, because expunging the underlying offense before restoring firearm rights removes the offense from the court’s records leaving no records for the court to review when considering a petition to restore firearm rights.
Where can I get more information?
As you can see, these are complicated issues. If you or a loved one has lost your right to possess a firearm, you need the assistance of an experienced firearm attorney to walk you through the law and process of restoration. The firearm lawyers at Sieben Edmunds Miller are happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss whether you might be a good candidate for firearm restoration.