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Getting a second shot at your gun rights

You may love to hunt. Perhaps your parent or grandparent bought you your first gun, taught you how to shoot and impressed upon you the crucial aspects of safety while carrying a firearm. From your earliest years, you anticipated this time of year when the air turns crisp and, just maybe, you could miss school one day to hunt for elk or Blacktail deer in the Washington forests.

This was your life until the day it all came to an end. Whatever the circumstances that resulted in your felony conviction, among the many penalties you paid (and are likely still paying) was the loss of your right to possess a firearm, possibly for the rest of your life. This ban is in effect even if your conviction was for a non-violent crime. However, it may be possible for you to have your rights restored so you can get back to the sport you love.

Taking everything into consideration

Restoring gun possession privileges when someone has a felony conviction is not an easy task, and if this is something you are passionate about, you should prepare for the difficult journey. The first step is to file for the expungement of the felony from your record; then you may ask the court to restore the rights you lost due to your conviction.

The details of your situation will determine whether the process will go smoothly or if you will have many roadblocks to overcome. For example, a federal crime is more difficult to expunge than a state crime, and the classification of the felony -- including whether it was a violent or non-violent crime -- will play a role in the court's decision. Some things you can do to improve your chances include the following:

  • Do not add more arrests or convictions to your record.
  • Allow time to pass to demonstrate your rehabilitation to the court. (States may have a minimum time that must pass before requesting expungement.)
  • Solicit letters or documents from community organizations demonstrating your membership and participation in civic events.
  • Request letters from your local law enforcement agencies attesting to your citizenship and compliance with the law.

The endorsement of police often plays an important role in a judge's decision to restore gun rights to someone with a felony conviction. However, even having that approval does not make your case an automatic win, especially if your case involved accusations of violence. However, consulting with an attorney dedicated to restoring and protecting the rights of gun enthusiasts may be an excellent place to begin this process and your first step toward potentially returning to the hunt.

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Tim Kelly

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