Under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which was adopted in December of 1791, American citizens have the right to bear and keep arms. There are, however, circumstances which can cause individuals to lose that right. Individuals who are certifiably mentally ill, for instance, cannot own guns. Unbeknownst to many, convicted felons often lose their right to bear arms as well.
Fortunately, a convicted felon’s restoration of his or her right to bear arms is sometimes possible, depending on the individual’s location and the circumstances involved. In the state of Minnesota, the laws surrounding gun possession are a complex web of both state and federal statutes that can be extremely complicated. Since each individual situation can bring varying circumstances, it is advisable for convicted felons to consult with an experienced felony lawyer to determine how the law applies to their unique circumstance.
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The Right to Bear Arms and Felony Crimes of Violence
In general, most individuals who are convicted of a felony “crime of violence” are ineligible to have their Second Amendment rights restored. As usual, there are exceptions to the rule however, and although a crime of violence is perhaps the most common impairment to the restoration of gun rights, it isn’t impossible to overcome. In some cases in Minnesota, even those who were convicted of a violent crime can petition the court to have their right to bear arms restored.
The Right to Bear Arms and Federal Felons
When the individual is convicted of a felony in federal court, it can often be much more difficult for him or her to have gun rights restored. In fact, doing so requires that the individual obtain a presidential pardon for the crime they committed. Unfortunately for felons who have turned their lives around, this can be an extremely difficult task, and the only route available. In order to successfully obtain a presidential pardon, the individual must be able to demonstrate that he or she can meet the high standards of character and reputation determined by a thorough investigation. It is important to note that state restoration of an individual’s right to bear arms does not the federal disability that comes as a result of a federal felony conviction.
The Right to Bear Arms and State Felons
Other types of felons in Minnesota are often eligible to have their right to keep and bear arms restored much more easily, if they meet certain conditions. In fact, Minnesota is said to be the most lenient state in the U.S. when it comes to restoring gun rights. Once a convicted felon has been discharged from confinement, can show good cause, and files a petition with any court in the state, his or her gun rights can be restored.
Minnesota Statutes and A Felon’s Right to Bear Arms
Under Minnesota statutes:
- When an individual has lost his or her civil rights due to a conviction of a federal crime and is thereafter discharged, that person is entitled to all civil rights including full citizenship, full right to vote and the right to hold office, as if the conviction had never taken place.
- When an individual has been convicted of a crime of violence and is convicted of shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing a firearm or ammunition at anytime during his or her lifetime is convicted of a felony and can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 15 years, required to pay a fine of up to $30,000, or both. When the individual receives relief of disability or has had his or her right to possess firearms or ammunition restored, however, this provision does not apply.
- When an individual is prohibited from shipping, receiving, transporting or possessing firearms or ammunition by state law, that person can petition the court to have his or her rights restored. When the person has been released from confinement and shows good cause, the court may grant such a request. If, however, the petition is denied, that individual is prohibited from submitting another petition for a minimum of three years unless he or she has permission from the court.
- Discharge of disability can be due to an order of the court or upon the expiration of a sentence.
Expungement and the Right to Bear Arms
Many people are under the misconception that simply because their crime is expunged and some of their civil rights are restored (like the right to vote, etc.) their gun rights must be restored as well. In the state of Minnesota, however, this is not always the case. Although it is extremely unusual for an individual to qualify for an expungement and not be eligible to have his or her gun rights restored, it does happen. In most cases, however, it is easier to have one’s gun rights restored than to qualify for an expungement.