There are federal restrictions against felons owning a firearm. This is one of those many things felons are not allowed to have after they leave prison.
This ban is in place regardless of the nature of their crime and whatever the felony was in the past was irrelevant.
Are these rights lost forever? Not necessarily, but there is a lot to it.
This blog post will address the question of how a felon can regain firearm rights. We” cover the following:
- Firearm Restrictions For Felons
- Restoring Firearm Rights
- Can a Felon Own a Gun After 10 Years
- Can a Felon Own a Gun After 20 Years
- Receiving a Pardon
- Supporting a Felon in Receiving Firearm Rights
Firearm Restrictions For Felons
After being released from Prison, many felons want to get a firearm to either hunt or for personal protection. But, unfortunately that isn’t allowed.
Where did this restriction come from?
In 1934, the federal government passed a law denying anyone convicted of a violent felony the right to own a gun. This added to a restriction that already existed to prevent violent felons from owning machine guns.
This remained as the law until the Gun Control Act in 1968 when it was amended to include all persons convicted of any felony, even those that did not involve violence. This remains in effect until the current day.
Aside from a gun, many felons are not aware that it’s also illegal for felons to own any type of ammunition.
Being caught with just one bullet will result in being tried and convicted of another felony, which will carry a more severe sentence because of a prior conviction whether it was a violent crime or not.
Sound unfair? Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter.
The law is the law and when a felon is convicted, they (presently) are unable to purchase a gun or ammunition moving forward.
Restoring Firearm Rights
Trying to get your firearm rights restored is really going to depend on what state you live in. For the most part, usually a pardon after a certain amount of time is possible in most states, but it’s just not that simple.
One way for felons to once again own a firearm is to have their record expunged.
The process depends on whether their felony conviction was from the state or the federal government.
It would be an easier process if the felony conviction was from a state court. So, it can make a difference what state their felony conviction is from.
However, when state and federal laws conflict, the stricter one will apply.
If the conviction came from the federal court, there is an application procedure to follow. This application is filed with the U.S. Attorney’s office or with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
There are of course conditions which must be met in gaining approval to own a firearm again.
First, the applicant must not have been convicted of a ‘forcible’ felony within the past 20 years. Also, at least 20 years must have elapsed since the end of any incarceration for that felony.
Next, the applicant’s criminal history and reputation must be such that the applicant will not act in a manner considered dangerous to public safety.
Additionally, restoring firearm rights must not be considered contrary to the public interest or federal law.
For those felons with nonviolent felonies, or those considered to be minor, the process is not as difficult, provided felons have lived crime-free lives during the past 20 years.
In order to establish having lived a clean life for the past 20 years, felons must demonstrate a stable work history and strong, healthy ties to their community.
Employment is probably the most challenging aspect of returning to society. Many felons struggle with finding a job because the stigma of having a felony record deters employers from hiring felons.
There are companies that are willing to give felons a second chance.
Having healthy ties to the community involves having good relationships with their families and friends as well as being involved in community and volunteer work.
Maintaining and documenting that involvement will be valuable to felons wanting to regain firearm rights as well as any other rights. Volunteer work, attending a 12-Step program, and other contributions to society will aid their case.
Changing friends and hangouts will also be important.
Another way to have firearm rights restored is by seeking a presidential pardon.
Can a Felon Own a Gun After 10 Years
Certain states do allow you to get your firearm rights back after 10 years. However, there are different rules and stipulations as to how to get your rights back in each state.
But, the list of states that allow you to get your gun rights back after ten years are:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
Now, to be clear this doesn’t mean that you can’t get your gun rights after ten years in other states. What this means is that these are the states that specifically say in their legal documents that after 10 years, certain actions can be taken to restore rights. For states that don’t have this written, you can still get a pardon usually to restore your gun rights.
If you’re looking to figure out exactly what needs to be done in your state, it’s best that you speak to a local lawyer as they’ll have all the details you need.
Can a Felon Own a Gun After 20 Years
There are two states that specifically mention 20 years in their legal guidelines and explain how once this time has passed, felons can apply for rights to be restored.
- North Carolina
Just like with the list of states that felons can get gun rights back after ten years, this list doesn’t mean you can only get your gun rights back after 20 years in there states. There are other ways, typically through a pardon to get your rights back and that goes for almost all states.
Receiving a Pardon
In order to obtain a federal pardon, felons must wait five years after completion of their sentence. Then they may contact the federal government regarding clemency. They should first seek legal counsel.
Felons must state the reason for seeking clemency and how the pardon will help them accomplish that. They will need to provide evidence why it would be in the public’s best interest as well as their own to receive clemency.
They may need documentation, such as a letter from appropriate government or licensing authorities. They must have a clean criminal record after the time of the initial conviction.
Their personal background is extremely important. The nature, seriousness, and length of time since their conviction along with their overall criminal record will be considered. Any hardship they may be suffering as a result of their conviction is also important. Involvement in community service or charitable activities will make a difference.
Felons will need to submit three letters of recommendations from character witnesses who are not part of their immediate family.
Following the review, the application will be submitted to the President or governor with a recommendation. The appropriate government official will then make a decision on the request for clemency.
If felons are successful in achieving a pardon, they will be able to once again own a firearm. However, we always recommend that you speak to lawyers throughout the process to make sure you’re successful.
Supporting a Felon in Receiving Firearm Rights
For families of felons who want to re-establish their firearm right, support them in seeking this right to have their firearm rights. It can be a difficult process to go through to be able to own a firearm again.
Be there for them.
If they can get this right back, they will be able to hunt again as they once did in the past before their conviction.
Hunting can be a great hobby for those who enjoy the outdoors. Of course, it is essential that they use a gun the right way.
Following gun safety guidelines will be important once they have that right again.
There is a safe way to own and use a firearm. Help them achieve this.
DISCLAIMER: It is important to stress that the information in this post is solely for educational and informational purposes, and does not constitute legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information is correct and current, the law in this area is complex and constantly changing, and readers are cautioned to research and verify it independently at an official source. We highly recommend you speak to legal counsel before moving forward with restoring your rights.
So what do you think about this blog post about felons can receive firearm rights? Have you or someone you know been in this situation? What was that like and were they successful? Please tell us in the comments below.