I want to buy or keep a gun but I am not allowed to do so because I have a felony conviction; is there any way to restore my gun rights?
Maybe. There are several ways a person who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm may have his or her rights restored. There are many reasons that a person may be barred from possessing a firearm such that restoration of gun rights is needed. Typically, a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, or an error on his or her criminal history.
At the federal level, there is a provision for restoration of a felony’s rights by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Enforcement (“ATFE”) under Chapter 44 governing firearms. Unfortunately, the provision has not been funded by Congress, and thus does not provide relief. Another way a federal felon may restore gun rights is by a Presidential Pardon. Nonetheless, federal felonies or other federal disqualifiers are a small percentage all cases.
The ability to purchase a firearm is ultimately governed in most states by passing a federal National Instant Criminal Background Check (“NICS”). Failure to pass a NICS check may be due to the federal system, but the federal check is based on state law disqualifiers that are simply entered onto the NICS system. Thus, restoration of firearms rights based on failure to pass a federal NICS background check may actually be caused by state matters.
A number of tools for restoring gun rights exist at the state-level to ultimately allow a person to lawfully pass a NICS check. Indiana has a new statute that allows a felony conviction to be converted to misdemeanor if a certain amount of time has passed and the person has not had other criminal trouble (John Alden v. State of Indiana, 2013). If granted by the trial court, the conversion of a felony to a misdemeanor, once reported to the criminal background checks system or NICS, has the net effect of restoration of firearms rights.
A pardon by the governor also may restore the gun rights of a felon. A great deal of lawyering is spent correcting old errors on records in order to restore gun rights. It is very common that old felony convictions, which are later reduced to a misdemeanor, are inaccurately reported. These often take a lot of time to correct as it involves work such as obtaining an old transcript of the hearing where this occurred, a copy of the criminal order, and clarification of an old order.
A person may contact a lawyer to restore gun rights at any given point in the process of seeking to lawfully possess a firearm. You may start the restoration of gun rights process by contacting an attorney about an old conviction before trying to purchase a firearm or after a NICS denial. These are some of the several courses to determining restoration of gun rights to either accomplish it or exhaust the possibilities.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. handles a variety of restoration of rights cases.
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