Restoring Firearm Rights Despite a Felony Conviction

One of the consequences of a felony conviction in Oregon is revocation of the right to possess a firearm through the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Even if the conviction was many years ago and an isolated event, the loss of the right to purchase and own a gun continues in perpetuity. Thankfully, many of those who have had their firearm rights removed because of a felony conviction may be able to regain those rights through the Oregon firearm rights restoration process.

Individuals Convicted of Certain Crimes May Not Be Eligible

Not everyone who petitions the court for the restoration of their firearm rights will be successful. Some felonies are not eligible for rights restoration through this process. Those convicted of a Measure 11 Offense — an offense with a mandatory minimum sentence in Oregon — usually cannot have their rights restored. Examples of these crimes include murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree robbery and other offenses.

Individuals who have been convicted of what is called a person crime involving a firearm, such as assault with a firearm or assault with a deadly weapon, are also not eligible for firearm rights restoration.

Firearm Rights Restoration for Hunters

Many people enjoy hunting but can no longer do it legally, due to restrictions on their right to possess a firearm because of a felony conviction in their past. Many of these individuals were convicted years or even decades ago, yet must miss annual hunting trips with friends and family as well as the opportunity to teach their children how to hunt and use a firearm.

Through the process of firearm rights restoration, many of these individuals may be able to once again enjoy the activities they did prior to their conviction. 

The Petition Process for Firearm Rights Restoration

Petitioners must file a petition in the circuit court of the county where they live. The petition is served on the sheriff or chief of police, who reviews the contents as well as the individual’s record to determine whether they believe the person poses any threat to public safety. Often, these petitions go through without opposition. There is frequently a hearing in front of a judge even if the petition is not opposed.

A Contested Hearing

If there is a contested hearing, meaning there is opposition to the petition for firearm rights restoration, presentation of clear and convincing evidence the petitioner poses no threat to the safety of the community or themselves becomes incumbent on the petitioner and any legal representation they may have. 

Having good character witnesses can be an essential part of a contested hearing, showing community support and a strong personal support system.

State Firearm Rights vs. Federal Firearm Rights

A successful petition will restore an individual’s Oregon firearm rights. In many cases, an individual’s federal firearm rights are also restored through this process, but sometimes only state firearm rights are eligible to be restored. It is important to discuss this distinction and its legal implications with a knowledgeable attorney.

Several Options for Firearm Rights Restoration

Altogether, there are several different ways to approach regaining the right to purchase and legally own a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. Experienced legal counsel can help determine if expungement, set aside or felony reduction is the best course of action. Any of these methods can be attempted on their own, and facilitate the restoration of firearm rights. 

Generally speaking, convictions that are also not eligible for set aside, or expungement, may still be eligible for felony reduction or firearms rights restoration.

Petitioning for firearm rights restoration is an especially useful tool for those who have been convicted of Class A and B felonies that cannot be reduced or set aside.

Discuss Firearm Rights Restoration with an Experienced Expungement Attorney

Talking with an attorney about options can help an individual find the right path back to lawful possession of firearms. A brief phone consultation can usually help you understand your individual situation and what options exist. 

Whether it’s for hunting, target practice, or personal protection, the right to possess firearms in Oregon is meaningful for many individuals who are eligible to seek relief. Eligibility and costs can usually be determined during a brief consultation.

How Soon After a Denial Can You Petition Again to Restore Your Firearm Rights?

According to ORS 166.274, you may petition for the restoration of your firearm rights once per calendar year.  Theoretically this means as little time as a few days could pass between attempts if one petition was filed in December and denied.  You could lawfully file a new petition in January of the following year.  Practically speaking, this will likely annoy the court and is not considered a prudent course of action. 

How soon to file a second petition after one is denied depends on several important factors.  Before submitting a new petition, you should do your best to address whatever led to the denial.  This may require some record clean up, new witnesses, or just more time without criminal trouble.  Every situation is unique, so it is best to review your individual situation with an attorney experienced in rights restoration law.