I had a recent client contact me about being denied his permit to carry by the Sheriff’s department. He had been approved initially, then when renewal came up, he was told it could not be renewed because he had a felony. Usually, we could petition the Court for expungement and restoration of gun rights. He, however, had a unique case.
No doubt about it, a felony will certainly prohibit an individual from bearing arms. Especially in this case as the felony did not fall under Minnesota’s expungement statute. Even if it were expunged, the Court would still need to be petitioned to restore his gun rights. Expungement itself does not restore gun rights.
In this case, my client could not even remember what the felony was. I believed him for the simple fact that the felony was close to 50 years old. Lucky for him, the law was on his side because of this.
Under Minn. Stat. § 624.714, subd. 12, “[a]ny person aggrieved by denial or revocation of a permit to carry may appeal by petition to the district court having jurisdiction over the county or municipality where the application was submitted.” This basically means that you can request a hearing and the Court must hold a hearing within 60 days of that request.
The Law Before 2003
Since 1975, felons convicted of violent crimes have not had the right to possess firearms until ten years had elapsed, without a similar conviction, from the date of discharge. United States v. Ellis, 949 F.2d 952, 954 (8th Cir. 1991).
Before 1993, the statute read in relevant part:
The following persons shall not be entitled to possess a pistol:
. . . .
(b) a person who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a crime of violence unless ten years have elapsed since the person has been restored to civil rights or the sentence has expired, whichever occurs first, and during that time the person has not been convicted of any other crime of violence.
Minn. Stat. § 624.713 subd. 1(b) (1990). (Emphasis added)
In short, if a person convicted a crime of violence at this time, the offender would be barred from possessing a firearm for the 10 years following the disposition of their case.
The Law After 2003
In 2003, the legislature amended the statute by changing the language of the statute regarding the prohibition on possession a firearm. The legislature changed the language from “the defendant is prohibited from possessing a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon for a period of ten years after the person was restored to civil rights or since the sentence or disposition has expired, whichever occurs first,” to “the defendant is prohibited from possessing a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon for the remainder of a person’s lifetime.” See 2003 Minn. ALS 28, 2003 Minn. Chapter Law 28, 2003 Minn. S.F. No. 842.
The legislature also added that “the provisions of section 1 to 11 that impose a lifetime prohibition on possessing … firearms apply to persons who are discharged from sentence or court supervision for a crime of violence on or after August 1, 1993.
In the case I mentioned, the petitioner fell under the following definition of an individual prohibited from possessing a firearm:
a person who has been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent or convicted as an extended jurisdiction juvenile for committing, in this state or elsewhere, a crime of violence. For purposes of this section, crime of violence includes crimes in other states or jurisdictions which would have been crimes of violence as herein defined if they had been committed in this state.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 624.713, subd. 1 (2).
This definition as it applies to Petitioner may technically be accurate, but the lifetime prohibition did not apply to the Petitioner in this specific case because the crime was so old.
We argued that the Sheriff failed to read the complete state which states that “[t]he lifetime prohibition on possessing, receiving, shipping, or transporting firearms and ammunition for persons convicted or adjudicated delinquent of a crime of violence in clause (2), applies only to offenders who are discharged from sentence or court supervision for a crime of violence on or after August 1, 1993. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 624.713, subd. 1 (13). (Emphasis added).
This was relevant for the simple fact that the petitioner, in that case, had a felony that was resolved almost 50 years ago and the petitioner did not fall under the statute of a lifetime ban.
We were successful in getting his application approved.