Reinstating a Right to Possess Firearms After a Conviction
Not all criminal convictions trigger a revocation of a person’s second amendment right, or right to possess a firearm. If you are convicted of a felony, it is against the law to own or possess a firearm. (It is also against the law to own or possess a taser, pepper spray, explosive devices, ammunitions, etc.) Some misdemeanor convictions also trigger a ban on possessing or owning firearms.
Many people wonder how they can get their right to own or possess a firearm back after a criminal conviction. Every case and conviction are different, so each person’s record must be looked at to determine if it is possible to get these rights back in their case. Below is some information that might clarify why a person may or may not be able to get their rights reinstated.
- If you can get a felony conviction reduced, you may be able to get your right to own or possess a firearm reinstated. Not all felony convictions can be reduced, however. Additionally, some reductions do not reinstate these rights. For example, if your felony was reduced pursuant to Proposition 47, that will not reinstate your second amendment rights by law. An attorney will have to review your record to determine if your conviction can be reduced, and if that reduction will reinstate your right.
o Furthermore, for some offenses, if you can get your felony reduced pursuant to PC 17(b), your right to own or possess a firearm in California may be reinstated, but the federal restrictions on this right may still prohibit owning or possessing a firearm, especially if the offense involved a firearm.
- Some misdemeanors trigger a ten-year ban on owning or possessing a firearm in California, and some even trigger a lifetime ban on owning or possessing a firearm in California or anywhere in the country. These types of misdemeanors are “crimes of domestic violence.” That is defined as a crime that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim."
o Please see the pdf at this link for a list of different offenses that trigger firearm bans: https://www.oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/firearms/forms/prohibcatmisd.pdf
- An Expungement pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4 does not reinstate a person’s second amendment rights. Thus, even if you have had a conviction expunged in California, you will still have the ban if that conviction was for a felony or for a qualifying misdemeanor that triggered either a ten-year or lifetime ban on owning or possessing a firearm.
Unlawfully owning or possessing a firearm is a crime. If you want to find out if you can lawfully possess a firearm, for a $20 fee, the California Attorney General will conduct a Firearm Eligibility Check and tell a person in writing if he or she is eligible to possess a firearm.
Each person’s record is unique. If you have questions about your individual rights to possess or own a firearm, please speak with your Fresh Start attorney.