Don't Let Your Past Limit Your Future

California Firearm Rights Restoration

How to Restore Firearm Rights in California

February 3, 2015

California Gun Restrictions

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is something that many Americans hold dear.  While this is a constitutional right, there are a number of ways your right to own a gun in California may be taken from you, including being a felon, misdemeanor convictions of certain domestic violence offenses, mental illnesses, and restraining orders. While these restrictions on gun ownership make a lot of sense in many situations, they can be overly-broad and take away fundamental constitutional rights from many otherwise law abiding Americans that pose no threat to society.

Fortunately, these restrictions on gun ownership are not absolute, and in many instances our law firm can help restore your right to own a gun.  In the case of restraining orders, your right to own a gun is restored once the restraining order is lifted. For those committed to a mental institution, gun rights are taken away for five years, but a petition can be filed to terminate the five year restriction in many cases.

California Felony Convictions and Reductions

A felony conviction is much different, as it results in the loss of gun rights for life. However, if the felony conviction was for a crime which is considered a “wobbler,” or certain California crimes which may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, our law firm can often obtain a felony reduction and expungement which will typically restore your right to own a gun. For more information on “wobblers” and “felony reductions” please see our page on California Felony Reductions.  The list of offenses that are considered “wobblers” is quite extensive, and includes many serious crimes—to check and see if your offense is on this list of “wobblers” please see our list of “wobbler” offenses.

Misdemeanor Convictions Resulting in Loss of Gun Rights in California

It’s not only felonies that can take away your right to possess a firearm.  Certain misdemeanor convictions relating to domestic violence and weapons charges can result in the loss of your right to possess a gun.

Conviction on certain misdemeanors can result to loss of firearms rights for ten years from the date of conviction. Expungment does not restore these rights. These convictions include:

  • Misdemeanors that are violent such as battery or assault;
  • Misdemeanors involving use of firearm or a deadly weapon;
  • Terrorist threats and stalking; and
  • Domestic violence offenses.

It is important to note that a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence results in a lifetime ban on firearm ownership according to federal law.  The controversial Lautenberg Amendment to the federal Gun Control Act imposes this lifetime ban.

Restoration of CA Gun Rights

If you have lost your gun rights, it is possible to have them restored in California.  Convictions for certain violent and weapons related misdemeanors result in California taking away your firearm rights for a period of ten years. Unfortunately, expungement will not restore your ability to own a firearm in these circumstances, and the ten year waiting period begins on the date of conviction.  The two options for firearm right restoration are:

  1.  Obtaining a reduction of a felony wobbler conviction; or
  2.  A pardon from the California Governor.

The Federal Gun Control Act

Note that for misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, California may take away your right to own a gun for ten years, beginning on the date of conviction. However, the Federal Gun Control Act may impose a lifetime ban on your ability to own a gun.  California expungements will not affect firearm bans resulting from this federal law, which can be somewhat complex to interpret.  Due to this complexity, if you have questions relating to restoring your right to own a gun based on any of the above circumstances, it is best to contact an attorney to discuss your options.

Governor’s Pardon

If you were convicted of a California felony which does not qualify for reduction and expungement, you may be able to apply for a pardon from the Governor of California. This typically involves first filing a petition for a California Certificate of Rehabilitation with the superior court of your county of residence.  If you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation, an application for pardon is automatically sent to the Governor of California. In the end, the decision to grant your request for a pardon us ultimately in the hands of the Governor.  The pardon application process can be quite complicated, so please contact an attorney if you would like to discuss the process and the probability of obtaining a pardon.

Comments ( 39 )

  1. Alexander Cortes says:

    What are the chances of abstaining a pardon when convicted of a felony going to prison and getting out on good behavior also discharging parole early for good behavior?

  2. Dennis says:

    I have a terrorist threats conviction in 1998 felony. 16 month term . can i get a firearm? California. If so how ? Before this i was a avid hunter & outdoorsman. Would love to teach my kids how to provided for them selfs.

  3. […] Restoring firearm rights in California […]

  4. John Martynski says:

    My daughters record and felonies was expunged here in California about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago. Can she know purchase a firearm to go hunting with me?

  5. Phillip says:

    If I was convicted for felony possession of components to build an explosive device, an possession of a controlled substance which I took a plea on which resulted in both charges being felonys each receiving a 2yr with half sentence ran together. Can i have the possession treated like a wobbled then after having that reduced next file for a cert or rehabilitation on the other charge? Both charges stem from 2002 an I haven’t convicted of anything since my release an completion of parole.

    • admin_WR says:

      If you were not sentenced to prison then you may be eligible to expunge your records. Please call us to discuss. Thank you

  6. Tony DeGravio says:

    Covicted of 2 felonies condition in 1995 received 5 years probation felonies were possesion and possesion for sales had felonies expunged in 2001 or 2002 not sure any help please contact me.

    • admin_WR says:

      Tony if you didn’t go to prison, you may be able to expunge these convictions. Call us 844-947-3732

  7. Sergio Ortega says:

    In california monterey county I was convicted of domestic violence. In 2001 my right to own firearms was taken away for a period of 10 yrs.on the tenth yr. I was arrested for possession. Of firearm.and controlled substance was order to a drug rehab program and 3yrs probation that was in 2010 then in 2015 i was arrested for possession of firearms again sentenced to 2 yrs w/ halftime iat cdc released on 3 yrs. Ab109 probation /parole is it still possible to get my gun rights back

  8. Robert says:

    1 Oz marijuana sales 1969, sentenced to 1yr, given 2yr probation. Later received restore of citizenship & firearms rights. Can I own a weapon in CA. Now? No further offences.

    • admin_WR says:

      If you didn’t go to prison, potentially. Kindly call us at 844-947-3732 to speak with a criminal records analyst. Thanks!

  9. Jesse says:

    I was convicted of assault and battery and resisting arrest in 1997 as 20 yr old in the Navy. The arrest was in Virginia Beach, VA. Am I still eligible to own a fire arm in CA?

  10. Casey says:

    In 1990 I was given a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence which I served my probation honorably. In 1992 I enlisted in the US Army and was honorably discharged in 1996. Then in 2001 I again enlisted, but this time into the National Guard after 9/11. I was released from my contract honorably because of the Lautenberg Amendment. I was told I could not possess a firearm. I’d like to find out what it takes to get my rights reinstated. Thank you.

  11. AARON says:

    I altered my own firearm in2005. It’s a misdemeanor charge which I had expunged in 2010. It’s been over 10 years with no charge since then. I applied for another firearm. They say I’m prohibited from possessing a firearm. Can you help get my 2nd amendment rights back?

    • DanielWR says:

      Aaron, your firearm restoration should have been automatic after 10 years. You may just want to try contacting the California DOJ to correct your records. There is likely nothing we can do in this case.

  12. Rhonda says:

    My brother was on probation for having several DUI’s and when they searched his home found a firearm in it which it was charged as a felony. Is there anyway to conceal the felony? He is trying to get a job at a school district and needs to pass a back ground check.

    • Jordan Myres says:

      Hi Rhonda,
      Thank you for your question. Please call us to further discuss at 844-947-3732. Our agents are waiting to hear from you.

  13. Dayna says:

    Does any action need to be taken at the 10-year mark to restore a person’s gun rights or are they “automatically” reinstated?

  14. Jason says:

    I’m 1998 I was convicted of 2nd degree robbery with a firearm, and sentenced to 3 years in prison. Good behavior had me out early 2000. Since then I have obtained a certificate of rehabilitation and a full pardon by the governor of the state of California which is where I live. Can I apply to buy a gun it all seems so confusing and would like to hunt and do things of the hobby and sport now with my son? And if not is there anything more that I can do to get these rights back I have no idea thank you for your time in advance

    • DanielWR says:

      Hi Jason, sometimes firearm rights may be restored through an unconditional pardon from the Governor. However, felonies involving the use of a dangerous weapon generally restrict firearm rights. Give us a call to see if we can help out with your case.

  15. Rachelle says:

    Thanks for the info. However I have a question that I hope someone can answer. Does an expungment of a Misdemeanor conviction call the 10 year band null and void?

    • DanielWR says:

      Hi Rachelle, your firearm eligibility will depend on the type of crime. Give us a call for more information, as the legal issues concerning firearm rights can be complicated.

  16. John Bonsey says:

    I received a felony expungement and a reduction of my felony to a misdemeanor under title 17.b The offense was burglary, and it qualified as a wobbler. My Lawer said my gun rights are restored. With this result am I free from the prohibition to own a gun?

  17. John Bonsey says:

    Oh! I live in California. I’m sure that’s important.

  18. John Bonsey says:

    Will I get in trouble if I purchase a firearm. With the outcome of my felony reduction under title 17.b?

  19. Mario says:

    I was convicted of shop lifting which was petty theft a misdemeanor then again petty theft with prior sentenced to 8 months state prison found a credit card and used it which was possession of access card with no permission sentenced to 8 months state prison can I get my gun rights back in California

  20. Scott says:

    I have an assault charge for approx. 30 years ago and since then have done 22 years (honorably) in the army and recently tried to purchase a hand gun but was denied. Apparently the assault charge and another misdemeanor charge have never been wiped from my record. Funny thing is I held a Top Secret clearance while serving. Any advice??

    • admin_WR says:

      Our firm would be happy to see whether there’s something that we can do to help. Please give us a call, and we can look into expungement and/or firearm rights restoration options.

  21. Tony says:

    I was convicted of a 459pc burglary in 1983…in California….I’m 55 never been in trouble scence….just had it expunged to no conviction dismissed…can I buy and posses guns…..

  22. Shonte Robertson says:

    Ok so 30 years ago when my dad was in his late 20;s he received his 4th DUI felony conviction, went to prison and was ket out on probation. Does my dad need a governors pardon or can he apply to have rights restore since it has been ten or more years?

  23. Mathew says:

    22 years ago I was convicted of armed robbery. I was 17 yrs old and stupid. Now I am 40 and have 4 kids that I would love to go hunting with. I have no other related charges or convictions since then ( a DUI 10yrs ago) and I work for the city I live in. I don’t want my children to be lacking for my stupid youth. Any help you could give me on getting my gun rights back would be appreciated.

  24. Ron says:

    I had a misdemeanor arrest for marijuana 8 years ago in Illinois.. can I purchase a handgun in California where I live?

  25. Marvin says:

    I was convicted of 273.5 in 91. In 94 I had the matter expunged. I discovered I could not possess a gun in 06. In late 06, the court granted me a Nunc Pro tunc dismissal. I’m wondering if I can possess a firearm

    • DanielWR says:

      Hello Marvin: Typically, a reduction of the offense to a misdemeanor via CA PC 17(b) would restore your rights. A Nunc Pro Tunc dismissal may also restore your rights, but you may want to consult with your attorney at the time. Otherwise, feel free to contact our office for more information regarding your eligibility.

  26. Mark Foote says:

    If I was convicted of a felony DUI in 2003 having three priors the prioress being misdemeanor convictions am I eligible to have the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor or two somehow get it dismissed in the interest of justice so I can restore my gun rights? Since 2003 I have not been in trouble with the law or have had any tickets or anything like that….

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