Restoration of Civil Rights to Firearms in Minnesota

240_000802_c244_0000_cslsGun laws in Minnesota are a complex web of Minnesota state and federal statutes and court rulings.  Information provided here is intended to help those seeking information and researching the laws.  The information here is intended to assist in those efforts, but is not intended to be complete, or to represent any kind of legal advice.  A lawyer can only provide legal advice to after the client consults the lawyer, and provides information upon which any advice would be based; and after the lawyer has an opportunity to research the law based upon the stated facts.  With that in mind, we offer the following information.

The most common impairment to civil rights to firearms is based upon a conviction for a felony “crime of violence.”  (The term “crime of violence” as defined by the applicable Minnesota Statute (624.712, subd. 5) is misleading, since it includes non-violent crimes including, for example, possession of marijuana.)

Minnesota Statutes 609.165 “Restoration of civil rights; possession of firearms” provides:

Subd. 1a. Certain convicted felons ineligible to possess firearms.
The order of discharge must provide that a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, as defined in section 624.712, subdivision 5, is not entitled to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm for the remainder of the person’s lifetime.  Any person who has received such a discharge and who thereafter has received a relief of disability under United States Code, title 18, section 925, or whose ability to possess firearms has been restored under subdivision 1d, shall not be subject to the restrictions of this subdivision.

Subd. 1b.  Violation and penalty.
(a) Any person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, as defined in section 624.712, subdivision 5, and who ships, transports, possesses, or receives a firearm, commits a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both. …

(c) The criminal penalty in paragraph (a) does not apply to any person who has received a relief of disability under United States Code, title 18, section 925, or whose ability to possess firearms has been restored under subdivision 1d.

Subd. 1d. Judicial restoration of ability to possess firearm by felon.
A person prohibited by state law from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving a firearm because of a conviction or a delinquency adjudication for committing a crime of violence may petition a court to restore the person’s ability to possess, receive, ship, or transport firearms and otherwise deal with firearms.

The court may grant the relief sought if the person shows good cause to do so and the person has been released from physical confinement.

If a petition is denied, the person may not file another petition until three years have elapsed without the permission of the court.

Subd. 2.  Discharge.
The discharge may be:
(1) by order of the court following stay of sentence or stay of execution of sentence; or
(2) upon expiration of sentence.

The Relationship between Expungement and Restoration of Civil Rights to Firearms.
In Minnesota, the laws that restore civil rights generally (e.g. voting) for those convicted of crimes, in many cases do not apply to firearms civil rights.  Some assume that a court’s Expungement Order, if granted, would also restore lost civil rights to firearms.  Not necessarily – Minn. Stat. 609A.02).  Minnesota’s expungement statute, Chapter 609A (2011), provides:

“Subd. 5a. Order concerning crimes of violence. An order expunging the record of a conviction for a crime of violence as defined in section 624.712, subdivision 5, must provide that the person is not entitled to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm for the remainder of the person’s lifetime. Any person whose record of conviction is expunged under this section and who thereafter receives a relief of disability under United States Code, title 18, section 925, or whose ability to possess firearms has been restored under section 609.165, subdivision 1d, is not subject to the restriction in this subdivision.”

In general, it should be easier to persuade a court to restore civil rights to firearms, than to grant an expungement request.  Those who are ineligible for expungement under Minnesota’s expungement statute Chapter 609A (for example, due to an adult conviction), could still petition for restoration of their firearm civil rights.

Though less common, some lose their civil rights to firearms based on a conviction after being a juvenile certified as an adult.

Minnesota Statutes Section 242.31
, RESTORATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS; POSSESSION OF FIREARMS. (2011):

Subdivision 1. Restoration. Whenever a person who has been committed to the custody of the commissioner of corrections upon conviction of a crime following certification under the provisions of section 260B.125 [juvenile certified for adult prosecution] is finally discharged by order of the commissioner, that discharge shall restore the person to all civil rights. The commissioner shall file a copy of the order with the district court of the county in which the conviction occurred.
Subd. 2. Order of discharge. Whenever a person described in subdivision 1 has been placed on probation by the court pursuant to section 609.135 and, after satisfactory fulfillment of it, is discharged from probation, the court shall issue an order of discharge pursuant to subdivision 2a and section 609.165. This order restores the defendant to civil rights.
Subd. 2a. Crimes of violence; ineligibility to possess firearms. The order of discharge must provide that a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, as defined in section 624.712, subdivision 5, is not entitled to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm for the remainder of the person’s lifetime. Any person who has received such a discharge and who thereafter has received a relief of disability under United States Code, title 18, section 925, or whose ability to possess firearms has been restored under section 609.165, subdivision 1d, shall not be subject to the restrictions of this subdivision.

127_Fotolia_1075487_XA person who has been civilly committed as mentally ill, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous, or chemically dependent, and lost their civil rights to firearms as a result, can petition the court for their restoration.

Minnesota Statutes Section 624.713 CERTAIN PERSONS NOT TO POSSESS FIREARMS (2011):

Subd. 4. Restoration of firearms eligibility to civilly committed person; petition authorized.
(a) A person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under subdivision 1, due to commitment resulting from a judicial determination that the person is mentally ill, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous, or chemically dependent, may petition a court to restore the person’s ability to possess a firearm.
(b) The court may grant the relief sought in paragraph (a) in accordance with the principles of due process if the circumstances regarding the person’s disqualifying condition and the person’s record and reputation are determined to be such that:
(1) the person is not likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety; and
(2) the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest.
(c) When determining whether a person has met the requirement of paragraph (b), clause (1), the court may consider evidence from a licensed medical doctor or clinical psychologist that the person is no longer suffering from the disease or condition that caused the disability or that the disease or condition has been successfully treated for a period of three consecutive years.
(d) Review on appeal shall be de novo.

The above Minnesota statutory section may be of interest to people researching this question.

Keep in mind that other Minnesota laws, and federal laws, could create a loss of civil rights to firearms based upon a criminal conviction.  For example, most convictions for crimes with a domestic relationship element may create a loss of civil rights to firearms under federal law, difficult to remedy in any court.