Yesterday Valley News Live reported that a state law allowed Marcus Schumacher, the man who killed Fargo police officer Jason Moszer, to get his gun rights back.
“Valley News Live Reporter Bradford Arick spoke with the ATF Thursday afternoon, who confirmed they have been investigating how Schumacher was able to get a gun,” the report states. “Since he was convicted of a felony, he should have been prohibited from purchasing a gun because he would have been flagged in national databases. The ATF says that at some point, Schumacher petitioned in District Court to have his rights restored and that petition was approved.”
House Bill 1209 from the 2011 legislative session created a process in the law through which felons can petition the court to get their gun rights back. It was sponsored by former Rep. Duane DeKrey, a Republican from Pettibone.
But that may not actually be how Schumacher was able to get access to a gun again. I spoke with Tyler Morrow, a defense attorney who works out of Grand Forks, about the statute and he said by his reading the law would have restored Schumacher’s gun rights automatically.
He’s talking about section 62.1-02-01 of the North Dakota Century Code entitled, “Persons who are not to possess firearms.” Here’s an excerpt:
“In that statute it says he would be prohibited for ten years based upon that offense, appearing that the right automatically restores after 10 years,” Morrow told me.
Though he acknowledged that the law is muddled on this front. “Our firearm laws are some of the worst laws we have as to ambiguity,” he said.
The process set out in House Bill 1209 requires that felons convicted in North Dakota petition the court where the offense occurred to get their gun rights back. Felons convicted outside of North Dakota must petition the court where they live.
I’ve searched for any evidence of a petition filed by Schumacher to restore his gun rights and I can’t find a thing. Not in Cass County, where he was living at the time he shot Officer Moszer. Not in Grand Forks County where he was convicted of negligent homicide for which he spent four years in the state penitentiary. Not in Ramsey County where he lived as a child.
So there are three possibilities. Maybe Schumacher did petition to get his gun rights back and the record of it is just buried somewhere I can’t find. Maybe Schumacher’s gun rights were restored automatically as Morrow says is possible under the statute cited above.
Or maybe somebody else bought the gun Schumacher used, which if true sort of illustrates the futility of trying to restrict gun purchases/ownership in the first place.
Though this last would run at odds to what VNL is reporting. Again, this is what VNL says: “The ATF says that at some point, Schumacher petitioned in District Court to have his rights restored and that petition was approved.”
But this is VNL, so who knows if they’ve got it straight.