The moment you’re convicted of a felony, you’re no longer able to keep or bear arms. This is the common misconception many Americans have when it comes to felon gun rights. The average citizen believes that a person who has been convicted of a felony, regardless of the crime, is no longer eligible to vote or keep guns legally.
In reality, though, the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right of all citizens to bear arms, but there are certain provisions that can disqualify somebody from being legally permitted to do so.
One of those provisions is being convicted of a felony. However, contrary to popular belief, a convicted felon may be able to have their application for firearms properly processed and accepted, under certain situations. Just because an individual has been convicted of a felony, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to go through legal avenues to own a gun once again. It is far more difficult for somebody convicted of a violent crime to be legally permitted to own a gun, but even then it is still not impossible. In order to get there right to keep and bear arms reinstated, they will need to go through a long and arduous bureaucratic and legislative process.
Felons and guns.
When a person thinks about a felon, the idea of them being given the opportunity to legally own a gun again can send chills down their spine, especially if they were victims of a violent crime in the past.
Well it’s easy to assume somebody convicted of a felony is going to go out and get a gun illegally if he wants one, there are many individuals who served their time and were convicted of lower-level crimes, such as class D or even class E felonies who are not a physical threat to anyone else but can no longer legally obtain a firearm without going through this arduous process (Tennessee Department of Corrections).
The first step you would need to take in this process is to determine whether you were charged by the state or the federal government. You will need to go through a process called adjudication that will involve contacting the Department of Justice, either at the federal level or within the state in which you were convicted of a felony.
Most states or federal agencies have a form that felons would need to fill out to have their civil rights restored, including the right to own guns.
Is it that simple?
Absolutely not. The felon would need to be able to show, clearly in without any hesitation, that they have completely changed their life and they are reformed from the behaviors that caused them to be charged with a felony in the first place. How could a person show such things? One of the best ways is to establish a strong and steady job and ties to the community. This can take a long time to establish.
Convicted felons often have extreme difficulty finding ideal employment situations. Some employers are simply unwilling to even consider hiring a person who was convicted of a felony, even if it was relatively minor in nature, comparatively speaking when you consider rape, attempted murder, or homicide as being more serious crimes.
On top of that, it can be difficult to reestablish one’s life in their old community or a new one. People will view you differently, will keep you at a distance, and judge you suspiciously, regardless of how much time you served and how your life may have changed during the process.
This requires patience and persistence on the part of the convicted felon. If you have established a job, have been working at it for a considerable length of time, volunteer in the community, have built strong ties in that community, and appear to be an upstanding citizen once again, filling out this form could begin opening doors that will allow you to once again legally own a firearm.
So, when it comes to the question ‘can felons own guns’ the answer is yes, but it is a long and complicated process to achieve that.
Some things to consider.
One of the most significant things any person should consider is if there felony conviction occurred at the federal level, it is going to be much more difficult to have their civil rights restored than if the conviction was received at the state level. If you were convicted at the federal level, then you will need to file your application with the US Attorney General’s office or through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. These agencies are notorious for not even reviewing documents, much less considering them.
If all else fails, your last resort may be a presidential pardon. This will require the assistance of a lawyer and if you receive that pardon, all of your civil rights will be restored, including your right to own guns, hold public office, and vote.
When it comes to felon gun rights, it’s best to never assume anything, such as you’ll never be permitted to legally own a firearm again. That is patently untrue, even though the process is wrought with limitations and challenges.