A man in a black jacket and cap fires a pistol outdoors

Gun Rights Restoration: What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Firearm Rights

At Findley & Rogers, if you have an old criminal conviction on your record we can help you restore your firearm rights. Many people don’t know gun rights restoration is possible, but Washington state law specifically provides residents a way to reclaim their gun rights in most cases.

Today in the blog, we’re looking at what to do when you’ve lost your firearm rights and how to restore those gun rights once they’re lost. There are a number of things that can cause you to lose your gun rights in the first place, including:

  • Any felony conviction
  • A domestic violence misdemeanor conviction
  • Drug addiction
  • Mental disability or incapacitation

Unlawful possession of a firearm is a felony by itself, so it’s very important that you obey the law and do not attempt to possess any guns if you are not legally eligible to do so.

How to Restore Your Gun Rights If You’ve Lost Your Gun Rights Recently

If you’re reading this because a court has recently taken away your gun rights due to a criminal conviction, it is going to be a while before you are eligible for gun rights restoration. Unfortunately, there is a mandatory waiting period assigned to criminal cases from the moment of conviction onwards. In most cases, it is impossible for you to restore your rights without first completing the waiting period.

If you weren’t convicted of any crime and have only lost your rights temporarily, you should be able to restore your rights more quickly so long as things eventually settle in your favor.

Note that if you are found not guilty by reason of insanity, this is the same thing as a conviction for the purposes of losing your gun rights. Probation, a deferred sentence, or a suspended sentence also count as a “conviction” for gun rights restoration purposes.

Man holds a vintage rifle in his hand

What About Guns You Already Own?

If you lose your right to possess a firearm, you usually must surrender any guns you own to law enforcement or prove that you have transferred them out of your ownership. When considering these circumstances and how you may restore your gun rights in the future, we recommend you speak to an experienced attorney first, because the law can be quite complex depending on your circumstances.

However, if you own any firearms that have special significance to you, or have cultural or historical significance, you can transfer your weapons to a trusted friend or family member, provided that this person does not allow you to have any kind of access to the weapon. This way, your firearms can be stored safely, and, if you do eventually go through the gun rights restoration process, you may be able to get your guns back.

How to Restore Your Gun Rights

In most cases, you can restore your rights after a criminal conviction. Washington state law provides a number of eligibility requirements that you have to meet.

Gun Rights Restoration Eligibility Requirements

  • You must complete the mandatory waiting period of 3 years for a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction or 5 years for a felony conviction. During this time, you must have no new convictions.
  • You must not have been convicted of a Class A felony or a felony sex offense.
  • You must not have any criminal charges currently pending against you in any state or federal court.
  • You must not have a restraining order against you that prevents you from firearm possession.
  • If you were convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, you must complete all of the terms and conditions imposed upon you by the court at your conviction and sentencing. This practice commonly includes things like probation, community service, and paying fines and restitution. This requirement only applies to domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, not felony convictions.
  • You must not have another prior conviction (besides the one that caused you to lose your right to possess a gun) which still counts in your offender score.

Most people who lose their gun rights can eventually meet these eligibility requirements, and then it’s simply a matter of petitioning the court to get your rights back. Note, also, that you do not need to have your criminal record cleared in order to have your gun rights restored, though some people do choose to proceed with both processes at once.

What Is the Mandatory Waiting Period For?

The waiting period involved in the gun rights restoration process serves a number of purposes:

  • Punishment: On a punitive level, the waiting period is designed as a punishment. The legal reasoning here is that if you’ve been convicted of a crime you should pay a price. While the Constitution provides a right to bear arms, this right only applies to law-abiding citizens.
  • Public safety: Firearms are extremely and uniquely dangerous, and people with a recent conviction or a restraining order are more likely to commit firearm offenses.
  • Rehabilitation: The 3 to 5-year waiting period isn’t a passive thing. You must spend these years living in the community with no new offenses, proving that you have grown as a person and moved beyond your criminal history.

Once you’ve met these gun rights restoration eligibility requirements, parsing out how you restore your gun rights is just a matter of petitioning the court. Findley & Rogers will handle this for you, making the process smooth and hassle-free.

Call Findley & Rogers for a Free Consultation

At Findley & Rogers, our experienced team of attorneys has a proven track record of helping ordinary people get back their gun rights. Our passion as a law firm is to help ordinary people who have an old criminal conviction take advantage of state law to get some relief and move on with their lives. We serve all of Washington State, so we can help you no matter which county you’re living in.

Contact us today for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.