How Can I Restore My Gun Rights?

Fighting to Get Your Rights Back

US citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. This is protected under the Second Amendment, and it’s one right that people have been known to fight tooth and nail for. While it is a protected right, there are many instances when this right can be suspended or even taken away permanently. Many people are shocked to learn your gun rights can be taken away if you are convicted of certain crimes in California or elsewhere. Having your gun rights taken away for a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily mean you have no chance of restoring them. You may be able to restore your gun ownership rights under certain circumstances.

In California, a felony conviction will automatically take away your gun rights for life. Certain misdemeanor convictions can take away your rights for life as well, but an even greater number will result in a ten-year suspension of your rights. To have these rights restored, you need to address the reason why they were taken away in the first place: your criminal conviction. In some cases, cleaning your record will result in the restoration of your gun rights. There are a number of ways you can clean your criminal record, and doing so may restore your gun rights. You may also be able to restore your gun rights by reducing your felony, which holds a lifetime gun ban, to a misdemeanor.

Let’s first look at felony convictions. If you are convicted of a felony in California, your gun rights will be taken away for life. So, by reducing your felony conviction to a misdemeanor, your gun rights could be restored under certain circumstances. It is important to remember that even certain misdemeanor convictions carry a ten-year gun ban, so if your felony was reduced to one of these, your rights may not be restored immediately. You should also know that not all felonies are eligible to be reduced to misdemeanors. California has many wobbler crimes. These crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. If your felony conviction could have been charged as a misdemeanor because it is a wobbler crime, you can petition to have it reduced to a misdemeanor. If your felony is reduced to a misdemeanor that does not carry a ten-year gun ban, your gun rights could be restored.

If your conviction was not a wobbler crime, this is called a straight felony; you will need to take a different route if you want to restore your gun rights. If your felony conviction cannot be reduced, you can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, which is also an application for a governor’s pardon. The pardon may restore your gun rights. A Certificate of Rehabilitation and a pardon is not the same as having a conviction dismissed. But, in certain circumstances, it can restore your dignity and some of your rights, such as gun rights. The process is similar to having a conviction dismissed. These are done on a case-by-case basis. The governor decides who gets a pardon and, in general, you will need to have been crime free for ten years to be considered. Felonies for violent firearms offenses typically will mean your gun rights will not be restored. Speak with an attorney if you are seeking a pardon.

Contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you have questions about restoring your gun rights. For some people, these rights are very important. If you care about your right to bear arms, the process of reducing a conviction or obtaining a Certificate of Rehabilitation and governor’s pardon may be well worth it. An attorney can advise you on what you may need to do to have your rights restored and can help you with the process.

Have you had your gun ownership rights suspended because of a criminal conviction? Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can best advise you on the steps you can take to restore your rights. With over ten years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Christopher Martens can help you defend your rights. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, every client gets the respect they deserve. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at to discuss strategic options for your fighting your charges.