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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26755
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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hello. i recently tried to purchase my first firearm and was

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hello. i recently tried to purchase my first firearm and was denied by the doj. i just received the letter showing my criminal history. nowhere on the letter does it state why i was denied. i thought i would be fine as i did have a previous felony but it was expunged. i also had a dui but was told that wouldn't affect my application. is there anything i can do?


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am an experienced criminal lawyer.

The problem is that California's expungement under 120.34 is not a true expungement but in the nature of a set-aside. Unfortunately, it is not recognized by the Federal government for purposes of restoring your Federal gun rights.

To get your gun rights back you'd need a California pardon based on a Certificate of Rehabilitation and a finding of innocence. This should satisfy the Federal government,though I must warn you they are difficult if not virtually impossible to get. You can find out more about the certificate on California's self help site as well. You would have to apply to the governor for a pardon and you can find out how to go about that here.

This site will also give you a lot of information about the state of the law and the interaction between the California and Federal government in this area, but it won't, unfortunately, provide you with any hope, other than what I've already said above.

There are lawyers that specialize in pardons and expungements and restoration of rights. That doesn't change the law in this area, but they may be better able to "package" you for the purposes of the pardon or certificate.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Fran,

Thank you for the quick and informational reply. I just had a follow-up question as well. The expungement was supposed to drop my felony to a misdemeanor. Even as a misdemeanor, does that still mean I am not able to restore my gun rights? Therefore, the only option is what you stated earlier as in receiving a pardon?

Thank you,



Right. The pardon is your only option because the Federal government doesn't recognize California's procedure for purposes of the restoration of gun rights. So even if the reduction would be enough to give you your CA gun rights back, the Federal government requires more. And, of course, without Federal rights state rights are, unfortunately not relevant.

You can try to appeal the decision to the FBI. if you can show proof that California has restored your gun rights and an official certificate of some sort saying that your matter is now legally a misdemeanor, you can see if they will reverse their decision. And you might as well try. But the literature indicates that you're going to need the pardon.
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