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Restoring Rights to Possess Firearms in IA and MO

Ed Cox Dec. 16, 2014

Putting aside the many political controversies surrounding gun rights and the right to carry firearms, there are many practical as well as recreational purposes for having firearms on a farm.

There are, however, a number of ways a person may lose their right to possess firearms, as well as ammunition, regardless of the type of gun or the purpose for which it is used. These reasons may include felony convictions, the placement of a restraining or no contact order, and, in some cases, a history of substance abuse.

Below are steps that may be of assistance in restoring rights to possess firearms. This can be a complicated and long process. The information provided here is for informational purposes only and not a replacement for consultation with a licensed attorney.

Determine If You Have a State or Federal Charge

States and the federal government have laws prohibiting certain individuals from possessing firearms. The steps necessary to regain the right to possess firearms will depend on the type of conviction as well as whether it results from a state or federal offense.

Loss of Gun Rights By States

In Iowa

If you’ve been convicted of a state offense that results in restrictions on your ability to possess a firearm in your state, you have to use that state’s processes to regain this right. Iowa law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from possessing, receiving, or transporting or causing to be transported a firearm. Its important to note that state charges can also result in federal restrictions, even if there are no restrictions at the state level. See the section below on regaining Federal gun rights for more details.

Depending on the charge, a person having lost their right to possess firearms must complete a Special Restoration of Citizenship (Firearms Rights) application, receive a pardon from the governor, or get the conviction expunged.

IA Special Restoration of Citizenship (Firearms Rights) Application

Generally, the most efficient method is to complete and submit the Special Restoration of Citizenship application. This method is available for those with a state felony conviction. It is not available for persons with a federal felony conviction or a conviction for domestic assault/abuse (even for misdemeanor domestic charges) as these are subject to federal restrictions as well as state. Further, persons convicted of the following crimes may not have their firearms rights restored:

  • A forcible felony, including:

    • Assault

    • Murder

    • Sexual Abuse

    • Kidnapping

    • Robbery

    • Arson in the first degree

    • Burglary in the first degree

    • Felonious child endangerment

  • A felony weapons violation under Iowa Code Section 724 governing carrying and firing of weapons

  • A felony for controlled substances involving a firearm

  • A minor who committed a public offense involving a firearm

If the conviction is eligible for restoration, the application itself is still a lengthy and involved process. While the application may be submitted at any point, it is the general policy of the governor’s office not to grant restoration until five years have passed since discharge from sentence. Once submitted, it may take one to three years before the investigation is complete and rights are restored, if successful.

In addition to the application itself, the applicant must also submit the following:

  • The Special Restoration of Citizenship application

  • A personal credit report

  • An Iowa criminal history report

  • Letters of recommendation from:

    • Prosecuting Attorney in your case

    • Present and/or former employer

    • Sentencing Judge in your case

    • Other reputable persons in the community

    • County Sheriff in your case

    • Minister (if applicable)

Iowa Governor’s Pardon

If the conviction is for a charge that is not eligible for the Special Restoration, the person seeking restoration of rights must receive a pardon. A pardon will restore all citizenship rights, including the right to vote and to possess firearms. It should be noted that a pardon does not expunge a person’s criminal record, however.

The process for a pardon is similar to that of the Special Restoration of Citizenship application, but it is the general policy of the Governor’s Office not to grant pardons until 10 years after the person’s discharge date. Like the Special Restoration, it also can take between two and three years to receive a decision.

The purpose of the application is to show that you are now a law abiding citizen that will not re-offend, and that the conviction is resulting in a hardship for you or your family. A personal statement, in addition to the application and recommendations, may be used to convey this information.

The application for a pardon may be submitted directly to the Governor’s Office or to the Iowa Board of Parole, which will then make a recommendation on the application to the Governor.

In Missouri

Missouri prohibits the possession of firearms by anyone convicted of a felony under Missouri law, or of a federal crime or a crime in another state, if that crime would be a felony under Missouri law. Significantly, antique weapons are not included in this prohibition. The processes available for restoration of firearms rights in Missouri is an executive pardon from the Governor or expungement of the conviction.

Missouri Executive Pardons

Pardons may be applied for after three years have passed since discharge from sentence. All pardon applications in Missouri go through the Board of Probation and Parole for an investigation and recommendation to the Governor. The resulting investigation may include inquiries into the following areas:

  • reason(s) for requesting clemency

  • circumstances of present offense

  • other criminal record information

  • victim impact information

  • conduct since discharge in social, employment, and financial areas

  • significant positive achievements

  • testimonials from friends, employers, and general references

  • recommendations from the judge, prosecuting attorney, and law enforcement agency involved in the case

Missouri Expungement of Convictions

Firearms rights in Missouri may also be restored by expunging the conviction resulting in restrictions. The effect of an expungement is the restoration of citizenship rights, including the right to possess firearms. Rather than the Governor’s Office, an expungement is processed by the courts upon a motion to expunge a conviction. To be successful, the court must find the person has not intervening convictions, the person’s circumstances and behavior warrant expungement, and expungement is consistent with the public welfare.

Expungement in Missouri is limited to certain types of cases, however. These include bad check convictions and certain public order misdemeanors, such as trespassing, gambling and distrurbing the peace. First time alcohol-related offenses, if misdemeanors, may also be expunged after 10 years. Due to these limitations, an executive pardon is often the only way to restore rights in Missouri.

Loss of Gun Rights from the Federal Government

For federal convictions, you must apply for a Presidential pardon through the Pardon Attorney’s Office at the U.S. Department of Justice. In very rare circumstances, there may be other administrative ways to restore firearms rights, or gain relief from Federal firearms disabilities. However, this method is not practically available as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have not received appropriations from Congress to utilize this administrative relief process. Thus, the only practical method is a Presidential pardon.

An application for a pardon is unlikely to be granted until five years after release from custody or, if not jailed, from the date of conviction. Further, a seven-year wait period is prescribed for convictions of tax, controlled substance, weapon, large fraud, public corruption, and violent crime offenses. After the application is submitted, there is an investigation process which takes some time., and very few pardons are granted by presidential pardon.

It should also be noted that for federal restrictions that result from state convictions for domestic abuse/assault, a Governor’s pardon at the state level is the route necessary to pursue.