Statistics from 2018 indicated that over 36% of Minnesotans owned at least one firearm. As you’ll know if you’ve ever bought a gun from a licensed seller, federal law requires purchasers to undergo a background check to ensure they are legally permitted to buy a weapon.
The rules on who can and cannot own and carry guns vary from one state to the next. In Minnesota, a long list of factors can preclude someone from gun ownership, most of which relate to criminal offenses.
So, what about DWI charges? If you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, will you still be able to purchase a weapon?
We’ve dug into this question in detail in this article.
Restrictions on Gun Ownership in Minnesota
Under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, Americans have “the right… to keep and bear Arms.” However, US Supreme Court decisions have ruled that this right is not an absolute one. As long as their rules are not deemed unconstitutional, states can impose various limitations on gun ownership.
The following are some examples of categories of people who may be ineligible to buy weapons in Minnesota.
- Anyone with a conviction for a crime of violence, whether in Minnesota or elsewhere.
- Those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor in relation to a Chapter 152 offense within the last three years.
- Undocumented immigrants.
- Those who have been admitted to a healthcare facility because of mental illness.
- People who have been convicted of a criminal offense carrying a punishment of a year or more in prison.
So, can a DWI prevent you from buying a gun? In some cases, yes. A first-degree DWI offense can see defendants imprisoned for as long as seven years, which easily satisfies the requirement mentioned in the final bullet point above. A first-degree DWI is handed down in cases with aggravating factors, such as previous felonies or impaired driving incidents. A second-degree DWI may also be serious enough to stop you from purchasing a gun.
It’s important to remember that these restrictions on gun ownership are not “black and white” rules. Even if you belong to one of the restricted categories of person, you can petition the Court to have your gun rights restored. If you’re no longer in custody and you have served all sentences handed down against you, a judge may decide to allow you to purchase firearms if they feel your case is a convincing one.
Background Checks for Firearm Purchases in Minnesota
Minnesota is not a “point of contact” state. This means firearms dealers here do not conduct background checks themselves. Instead, they must contact the FBI to start the process once a customer expresses the intention to buy a gun.
Local police also have a role to play in terms of background checks. If you try to obtain a transferee permit or a permit for carrying a handgun, Minnesota law requires local law enforcement to carry out a check. The same rule applies if you try to buy a gun without one of these permits.
Licensed Dealers vs. Private Sellers
There is a legal loophole at the federal level that allows gun buyers to circumvent background check requirements. If you go to a private seller (someone who does not have a federal dealer’s license) you do not legally have to submit to a background check. However, just about all private merchants who sell weapons at gun shows, as well as online. have a federal license that requires them to fulfill the same legal obligations as if the gun was purchased at a dealer shop.
So, can a DWI prevent you from buying a gun? In certain situations, the answer to this question might be yes. If you need further guidance in relation to this matter, or help with any DWI issue, contact us today. We offer free initial consultations.