Methods of Gun Rights Restoration for Felonies and Misdemeanors in Minnesota

Methods of Gun Rights Restoration for Felonies and Misdemeanors in Minnesota

It is a little-known fact that even people with a lifetime ban on gun rights may be eligible for restoration through different legal remedies.

Felony Removal of Gun Rights

Under Minnesota state law and federal laws; a person with a felony may lose their right to possess firearms. It is a little known fact that a felon’s gun rights may be considered for restoration. Restoration of gun rights under Minnesota law or federal law applies only to a specific conviction. The restoration process does not have a blanket application over future convictions.

Federal law and Minnesota state law dictate the removal of gun rights in almost all felony cases. In a felony case; gun rights will be restored upon the restoration of all civil rights. The judge will issue an “Order of Discharge” detailing the restoration of all rights specifically. This means that, in general, a convicted felon will have their gun rights restored upon discharge from the conviction.

Violent Felonies

A violent felony is an entirely different matter in Minnesota. If the crime was of violence then the felon’s gun rights will be removed for life. Yet, there is still a process by which a lifetime ban may be lifted. The Minnesota Personal Protection Act of 2003 allows a felon with a lifetime ban to Petition the Court of conviction for restoration of gun rights upon “discharge of sentence”. This generally means that the felon may apply after the completion of prison time, parole/probation and payment of fines and or restitution.

A Petitioner must show “good cause” for the restoration of gun rights. This process is exclusively meant for felons with a lifetime removal of gun rights. Unfortunately, if the violent felony charges are reduced to a misdemeanor at a later time; the above process will not apply even though the original charge was a violent felony.


Minnesota laws dictate several different time frames for different misdemeanors.  The state of Minnesota does not automatically take a person’s civil rights upon conviction of a misdemeanor.  Since civil rights are not taken away; there can be no automatic restoration of gun rights upon restoration of civil rights.

However; there are still restoration options for misdemeanor crimes after specific wait periods unless the misdemeanor is the result of domestic violence. A standard period of time for most misdemeanor crimes is three years. There are also misdemeanor crimes that are excluded from restoration of gun rights such as harassment, stalking, rioting, false imprisonment, gang crimes, child neglect and endangerment of a child.

Pre-trial Diversion

Pre-trial diversion programs may also restore a person’s gun rights in a case where they would have previously been revoked. What this means is that a person who is charged with a crime of violence cannot possess a firearm for the duration of the program. Upon successful completion of the program, the person’s rights will be restored.


In extraordinary circumstances;the Minnesota Board of Pardons has the right to essentially expunge a conviction and, hence, restore gun rights.  However; the Petitioner must show through “clear and convincing evidence” that the benefit of having the gun rights restored outweighs the burden to the legal system and society of having the record set aside.

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