Federal Gun Rights Laws - The Interplay with Minnesota State Law

By now, you probably know that both state and federal law can prohibit a person from possessing firearms based upon their criminal history. Often, the laws are duplicative and a person is ineligible under both for the same offense. But, certain offenses can result in a person being ineligible under federal law, but not under state law. This is why it is critical to get a seasoned Minnesota gun rights attorney to help you through any criminal charges you may be facing.

To demonstrate, what follows are two of the most common distinctions between federal and state law. This is a non-inclusive list. So be sure to check how federal and state law apply to your circumstances.

Felony Charges and Convictions –

Both state and federal law prohibit individuals indicted for felony charges and those convicted of a felony. In Minnesota, if it’s a crime of violence felony conviction, then it’s a lifetime ban. If it’s not a crime of violence, firearm rights are restored upon the restoration of civil rights. This restoration of civil rights also makes the person eligible to possess firearms under federal law.

In the instance civil rights are not restored, then a person must obtain an expungement or pardon in order to possess a firearm under federal law. Because only limited felonies are eligible for an expungement, the likely consequence will be to seek a pardon, which is a rare result.

Domestic Violence Convictions –

 State law prohibits a person from possessing firearms for a minimum of three years if they were convicted of any level of a domestic violence offense. This can be a lifetime bar if a firearm was used in the commission of the offense because the judge has discretion to dictate the length of the prohibition.

Federal law takes this a step further. If the conviction is for a misdemeanor level of domestic violence, it is a lifetime prohibition. What’s important to understand is that the facts supporting the conviction control, and not just the name of the offense in which the person was convicted. Consequently, a simple assault could actually be considered a domestic violence offense if it was committed against a certain individual – such as a family or household member.

Further, federal law prohibits persons from possessing guns if a Harassment Restraining Order or Order for Protection includes a provision to this effect.

Penalties –

A violation of federal law results in stiff criminal consequences. A person could face 5 or 10 years in prison and/or a significant fine. Importantly, the prison term does not run concurrent with any other prison service imposed.

The interplay between state and federal law when it comes to gun rights is challenging to understand, even for some attorneys. If you believe you need help getting your gun rights back, contact us now to schedule a consultation.


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