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Restoring your gun rights after a federal felony conviction

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2021 | Firearms rights |

Whether you have a state or federal felony conviction, you are likely to lose your right to possess firearms. For a state conviction, you can ask a court in Washington to restore your gun privileges. Regrettably, reinstating gun rights after a federal felony conviction is an entirely different story.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone with a felony conviction from owning or otherwise possessing a firearm. While it is theoretically possible for those with federal felony convictions to restore their gun rights, Congress has made doing so virtually impossible.

The federal process to reinstate gun rights

If you have a federal felony conviction, you cannot ask a U.S. court to restore your firearm rights. Instead, you must file a request with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Unfortunately, since 1992, Congress has refused to give the ATF funding to adjudicate restoration applications. Therefore, you are not likely to receive an answer from the ATF.

A legal pickle

If the ATF denies an application to reinstate gun rights, you can ask a U.S. district court to hear the denial. Nevertheless, since the ATF is not processing applications, you are not apt to receive a denial. The U.S. Supreme Court says not processing applications is not the same as issuing a denial, leaving you with no standing to ask a federal judge for relief.

Because you cannot go through the normal process to restore your firearm rights, your only option is to ask the president for a pardon. Ultimately, because presidents rarely pardon average people who have felony convictions, you are probably out of luck.