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Old 03-04-2017, 09:01 AM
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Default Gun Rights restored as a felon?

Hi there!

Haven't been on in a very long time, but need to get some direction on this one. I got my civil rights restored last year with Virginia, where my crime was occurred. However, I want to get my gun rights restored. I am a non-violent convicted felon, and I now reside in Florida. Do you know if I need to apply with Virginia for this or Florida?

It feels good, after all these years to at least be able to vote, serve on a jury, and be a notary again. I feel like I have most of my life back.

I can't believe it's going to be 10 years in May, when I was convicted and 10 years in August when I went to prison. To see me then and now....wow, I am so glad I am where I am today.

Thanks!
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:10 AM
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I'm not sure which state, but I don't think would matter if the state you're living in doesn't restore gun rights. I could be wrong (on both counts), but I think it takes a pardon from the Governor to get gun rights back.

I finished up parole in Dec. 2012, applied to have my rights restored immediately and received my certificate in April (?) 2013....in time to vote in May. However, that did not include the right to own a gun.
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:49 AM
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First, congrats on your 10 years! It sounds like you've come a long way!

Unless your crime was federal, a lot of states are now allowing for restoration of firearm right in addition to voting. People (like me) that have been convicted of a federal felony have no ability to have firearm rights restored; however, we are able to own / possess certain black powder weapons. (No center fire rounds)

Being that your conviction took place in Virginia, you will need to handle it there. Once your rights have been fully restored, you should be good to go anyplace you live.

You've probably already visited the Virginia site for this info, but if not, here it is:
http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms_Restoration.shtm
Quote:
One who is convicted of a felony automatically loses his firearm rights under state and federal law. If you have been convicted of a felony as described in Section 18.2-308.2 of the Code of Virginia, you may still be eligible to purchase a firearm if your rights have been restored under both state and federal law, as follows: You have been pardoned or have had your political disabilities removed pursuant to Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia, and the executive order does not place any conditions upon the reinstatement of your right to ship, transport, possess or receive firearms.
-OR-
You were convicted of a felony offense in a Virginia Circuit Court, you have been granted permission by the Circuit Court of the jurisdiction in which you reside or the court in which you were convicted to possess or carry a firearm (with no restrictions on the type or use of firearms) and one of the following:
  • you have had all other political rights restored by the Governor, or,
  • you have had your federal disabilities removed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
-OR-

You were convicted of a felony offense in a state other than Virginia, you have had your political rights restored by the Governor of the State in which you were convicted, or other legal authority of that state, and you have had your firearms rights restored (with no restrictions on the type or use of firearms) by a court or other legal authority in the State in which you were convicted.
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:55 AM
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State political rights and federal disabilities Sounds like one long, drawn out process!

Good luck myfreedom2010....and welcome back Be sure to let us know how the process goes, and that you've been successful in getting those gun rights
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Old 03-05-2017, 12:17 AM
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Yes, David's information echoes the general consensus I've received from several local attorneys as well when I was inquiring into this matter for my own purposes.

For state felonies, so long as the state of conviction restores your civil rights completely, you are cleared of your firearm disability for all intents and purposes and even the Feds will honor it (cleared for NICS background checks and everything). Some states automatically restore your gun rights once you get your other civil rights restored (right to vote, sit on jury, etc.) for non-violent felons upon total completion of their sentence, off-paper, no longer on probation/parole, but require special procedure or hoops to jump through to apply for relief for more serious felony convictions, such as appealing to the governor or parole board (which moonlights as pardon board in some states).

For federal felons:

Quote:
Although Federal law provides a means for the relief of firearms disabilities, since October 1992, ATF’s annual appropriation has prohibited the expending of any funds to investigate or act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities submitted by individuals. As long as this provision is included in current ATF appropriations, the Bureau cannot act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities submitted by individuals.
https://www.atf.gov/firearms/qa/ther...s-firearms-and

Therefore, the only avenue for relief currently available for federal felons is via presidential pardon.

Also, be careful with even black powder weapons. Even though federal law may have no problem with it, quite a few states define a "firearm" as anything capable of "firing a projectile" or "expelling a missile" or similar such language, which means that you could still be prosecuted in those states even if the Feds won't pick up. Idaho is one of such states that defines firearms more broadly than the Feds do, so be careful.

For me, no bang-bang toys at all until I've got the Pardon Board's written approval. I already tried applying at first eligibility back in 2012, but was denied of course, as they very rarely grant full pardons unless at least a couple decades have passed and you've shown yourself to have been a productive citizen and managed to stay completely out of trouble in that time. But they do have a new procedure now just for restoration of firearms rights (without full pardon) so I may try giving it a shot again once I can scrape up a few thousand bucks to hire a local attorney who specializes in such petitions handle it for me this time around instead of trying it again "pro se" like last time.

It does sound like folks are having better luck where all that is required is the governor to sign off on it, rather than a risk-adverse parole/pardon board.

Last edited by Nickel Timer; 03-05-2017 at 12:46 AM..
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Old 03-05-2017, 07:26 AM
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Okay, so my conviction was a non-violent crime. I applied to have my rights restored back in early 2016. I looked at the Virginia website yesterday, and it says "restoration of rights" restored as of April 6th, 2016. Does that mean my gun/fire arm rights have been restored?

You mentioned it might be an automatic restoration depending on the state and I read the link about restoring your fire arm rights but I am so confused???

It feels good to be able to vote, serve on a jury, and be a notary again. I feel like most of my life is back!
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickel Timer View Post
Also, be careful with even black powder weapons. Even though federal law may have no problem with it, quite a few states define a "firearm" as anything capable of "firing a projectile" or "expelling a missile" or similar such language, which means that you could still be prosecuted in those states even if the Feds won't pick up. Idaho is one of such states that defines firearms more broadly than the Feds do, so be careful.


I'm glad you pointed out what I failed to mention.. (Doesn't everyone live in Texas?? ) You are quite right!! Texas doesn't consider curio "muzzle loaders" traditional firearms, but the majority of states DO, and someone with a felony record could very well end up in jail / prison for them, just as they would a center-fire weapon.

The last time I checked (years ago) I think there were only 3 states that paralleled the feds on this.. I tried to do a quick google to get the info but couldn't find anything definitive.. One guys is claiming 10 States do now.
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:11 PM
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The way I look at this is... How much is your freedom worth? There is plenty of great information here at PTO, and on many other forums across the internet, but I wouldn't trust my freedom on what I find online unless they are absolutely clear and verifiable. If the details are not readily available, and well documented, I would hire a lawyer to look into this to make absolutely certain you are not exposing yourself to potentially going back to prison. You may be able to get some type of legal release from the probation / parole department, but that is probably doubtful, and I'm not sure I'd trust it as affirmation or a denial either way = consider the source!

I did A LOT of research for both Texas and the Feds before I bought a (specific) black powder firearm for home protection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by myfreedom2010 View Post
Okay, so my conviction was a non-violent crime. I applied to have my rights restored back in early 2016. I looked at the Virginia website yesterday, and it says "restoration of rights" restored as of April 6th, 2016. Does that mean my gun/fire arm rights have been restored?

You mentioned it might be an automatic restoration depending on the state and I read the link about restoring your fire arm rights but I am so confused???

It feels good to be able to vote, serve on a jury, and be a notary again. I feel like most of my life is back!
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Old 03-09-2017, 08:14 AM
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I'd agree with getting an attny's input on this.
Safest way to get the right answer.
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Old 03-09-2017, 02:35 PM
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The problem is with the federal laws, and the ATF. The only way to lawfully have access to a firearm under the federal laws (or even to one bullet) after any felony conviction, (federal or state) is a presidential pardon. Example, the United States Attorney in Washington State called a press conference to announce that she was going to take over, and indict/prosecute every individual in the state of Washington who was a felon and was charged with having access to a firearm. By the way, Washington does have a path through the State courts to have the right to own firearms reinstated after a felony conviction.

All it takes is one zealot, in the right federal job, to erase State laws, Guns; Marijuana, whatever.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:10 AM
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Are you talking about the Beecham case?

From the Seattle PI:

Quote:
In Beecham, the defendants had prior federal felony convictions, and then had their residential states “restore their civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm.” They were later prosecuted under federal law for possessing firearms as convicted felons. They argued that since there was no mechanism for restoration of civil rights in federal court, the state court restorations immunized them from prosecution for being felons in possession of a firearm. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only the federal government could restore their civil rights since they had federal convictions. Their convictions were upheld. Conversely, if their underlying convictions were state crimes, then the restoration of gun rights by the state court would have immunized them from prosecution for felon in possession of a firearm.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/defenseatt...y-rights-back/

It sounds like even though they got their Washington State civil rights restored for their state felonies, they had other outstanding federal felony convictions which still prohibited them at the federal level. That is the only reason they were still able to be prosecuted by the Feds.

Although I do agree that trouble could arise if, say, you ever had contact with an overzealous police officer who were to hassle you, doubting you really got your gun rights restored as a state felon. In which case, if you didn't have immediate paperwork on your person (or able to be produced in a timely manner), you could very well end up being arrested and having to show up in court the next day. But any such case would be promptly dismissed, once the court verified your status and that you had your firearms disability removed.

That's why, like I said in that Prison Legal Help! thread a few months back, I'd definitely be keeping my pardon papers on my person at all times, every single trip I make to the gun range for plinking/target practice, just in case.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:37 AM
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If state gun rights are restored, I agree that it should require a federal felony for prosecution. My previous comment about state or federal felony convictions after the restoration of rights by the state was inaccurate.

My comment about zealots was aimed more at the US Attorneys, AUSAs and especially the Attorney General of the US than it was about police or federal special agents. The agents make a prosecution recommendation to the Dept. of Justice, but they decide whether to proceed with the case, or not. I think the Seattle US Attorney was upset with Washington's perceived lack of interest in prosecuting felon in possession gun cases, but also by the fact that she decided the punishments available under state law weren't harsh enough for her liking.

Different issue, but legal medical marijuana (under state laws anyway) has resulted in task forces of federal LE in the past, and I won't be surprised if the current AG does the same thing again.
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:38 PM
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Yeah, the thing you have to keep in mind with felon-in-possession laws, is that they are kind of unique in that they fall within a small class of crimes known as status offenses.

Status offenses are interesting, because they are about the only kind of crime where you can commit the same course of conduct one day and be criminally charged, yet commit the very same course of conduct some time in the future and be totally in the free and clear.

Take underage drinking laws, for example. One day shy of your 21st birthday, get caught at a party with a beer in your hand and you're getting a ticket. Wake up the next morning and do it again that night, no problemo.

So I'm not sure you can really compare drug laws with this particular type of offense, although I suppose if you got your medical marijuana license in certain states, you would be under a change of status, at least as far as state prosecution goes in those particular states. But the main issue there is that federal law allows no exception for medical purposes. That is why the Feds can still charge you even if you're free and clear in your state. But Federal law is very clear on felon-in-possession: get your civil rights restored, you ARE free and clear as far as they are concerned. It's just a matter of being able to get your civil rights fully restored at the state-level, versus not being able to so easily do so at the federal-level. (At least for the time being... unless the ATF ever starts accepting relief applications again.)
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