The lifetime prohibition or ban from ever owning a firearm in California after only one felony conviction is probably unconstitutional under the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms but who is going to challenge it?

California’s gun control laws are some of the strictest in the United States and as a result a gun conviction can lead to many years in state prison.  However, a careful review of California’s expungement statute embodied within Penal Code Section 1203.4 which allows a defendant to have their plea of Guilty withdrawn allowing their record to essentially be expunged does not work the way you think.

Your right to bear arms or to possess, own, or use a firearm in California appears as though it may be restored under this California general expungement statute, PC 1203.4 ?  However, after carefully reviewing the complex statute with its exceptions and convoluted language you will see that this statute unequivocally prohibits the defendant from ever owning or possessing a firearm in the state for merely being convicted of a felony.  That felony conviction does not even have to be one which involved or pertained to a firearm, a gun or any other weapon; just the felony conviction is enough to prohibit a lifetime  firearm/ gun prohibition.


Under Penal Code Section 1203.4, it clearly states that the “dismissal of an accusation or information pursuant to this section does not permit a person to own, possess, or have in his/her custody or control any firearm or prevent his/her conviction…”  This blanket and overreaching gun/ firearm lifetime prohibition as a result of one felony conviction does not appear to have been successfully legally challenged.   There only remains several difficult ways to restore your firearm/gun possession rights and they are as follows:

1.            Obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation which is extremely difficult and costly.

2.            A governor’s pardon.  This too is very difficult and not often granted by California governors.  The previous governor, Governor Schwarzenegger, almost always denied a governor’s pardon because he wanted to appear hard on crime, that’s the Republican way.  An even earlier California  governor, Wilson, had an even worse record granting pardons.  His law and order beginnings in San Diego made him the “no” pardon governor.

 Just recently in a conversation with former Senator Noreen Evans, she said the current governor, Brown is very conservative and doesn’t grant these kinds of gun  pardons.

It appears that any felony conviction in any state in the United States would preclude a defendant from ever owning, or possessing a firearm/gun in the future.  Whether this is fair is another issue.  As one knows, in some states everything is charged as a felony, especially minute possession of narcotics, i.e., marijuana, cannabis, however you call it, it is usually a felony.

These felony convictions preclude a whole class of people from ever learning gun safety, defending themselves in bad crime areas, and/or teaching their children gun safety because they would be prohibited from doing so.  Further, it becomes a vicious cycle in that any gun possession, which is not difficult to avoid  (since gun possession in the United States is so commonplace), could land an individual in jail again but this time for substantial time commitments, fines and more stigma.

Unfortunately, the California Penal Code is laden with many convoluted and complex statutes and sections, particularly 29800 covering a “Person convicted of a felony owning, purchasing, receiving or possessing firearms.”

Hence, any of the people that we have discussed in the previous paragraphs who has been convicted of a felony, and I mean any felony, or has been “addicted to the use of any narcotic drug,” and who owns, purchases, receives or has in possession under custody or control any firearm is guilty of a felony.  Again, the Penal Code under 29800 further penalizes and punishes those ever being charged and convicted of a felony no matter what the felony is.  If they are addicted to a drug, the penalty is enhanced and federal prisons become full and teeming with these kinds of offenses.

To be clear, under Penal Code Section 29800, there are three groups of people who are prohibited from ever owning or acquiring guns and they are:

1.            Convicted felons

2.            Anyone convicted of specific misdemeanors

3.            Narcotic drug addicts

The penalties for “being a felon with a firearm” in California is extremely draconian.  If you fall within one of the groups mentioned above and you own, possess, and even if it is just temporary possession or momentary possession, purchase or even receive a gun, your gun rights can be revoked for ten years, but in most cases your gun rights can be revoked for life and if you are a juvenile you will not be able to own a gun until you are thirty years old.  Like so many California gun laws, Penal Code Section 29800 is full of confusing exceptions and technicalities.


Our law firms’ lawyers include very skilled attorneys who have always been on the right side—defense attorneys, they have never been prosecutors or cops with a suit.  We understand how California firearm crimes are prosecuted.  More importantly, we know how to defend them.  Please call us for a confidential and free consultation so that we may help you avoid a lengthy jail or prison sentence and the accompanying fines that can ruin your life.

You may call us at (855) 247-3190 or individually at either of our offices, San Rafael (415) 492-4507 or Santa Rosa at (707) 571-8600.

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