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Domestic Abuse and Gun Rights

I have been asked numerous times over the course of my career what affect, if any, a domestic assault/abuse conviction has on gun rights in Minnesota.  It is a complicated issue, which implicates both state and federal law.


Under Minnesota law, a conviction for a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor domestic assault will trigger a 3 year prohibition against possessing a firearm or ammunition.  See:  Minn.Stat. 624.713. A conviction for a felony domestic is considered a crime of violence, which results in a lifetime ban on the possession of firearms and ammunition under Minnesota law.  If convicted of a felony domestic, the only way to re-acquire firearm rights is if the State of Minnesota restores your civil rights, including firearm possession.  This does not simply happen as a matter of course once discharged from probation.  Rather, a convicted felon must petition the  court for restoration of civil rights following a conviction for a crime of violence.


To summarize, under Minnesota law, someone convicted of a domestic assault will lose the right to possess a firearm for a minimum of 3 years,  and potentially a lifetime ban.


Federal law is slightly different, however.  Under federal law, conviction of a domestic assault, whether a misdemeanor or felony, can result in a lifetime ban on firearm possession.  Under federal law, if the assault includes the use of physical force (as apposed to simply threatening behavior) or a weapon was used (or the threat that a weapon will be used), a lifetime ban is possible.  When those elements are present, and the parties are former spouses, a parent or guardian of the victim, the parties have a child in common, or the parties live together, then federal law considers it a crime of violence and the lifetime prohibition applies.


As you can see, conviction for a domestic assault can have serious consequences as far as firearm possession is concerned.  It is imperative that a defense lawyer knows the intricacies of federal and state gun laws so that your case can be resolved in a way that avoids those pitfalls.