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Monday, November 14, 2011

Law - "Felons Finding It Easy to Get Gun Rights Reinstated"

A very long story dated Nov. 13th in the NY Times, written by Michael Luo, reports:

Under federal law, people with felony convictions forfeit their right to bear arms. Yet every year, thousands of felons across the country have those rights reinstated, often with little or no review. In several states, they include people convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and manslaughter, an examination by The New York Times has found.

While previously a small number of felons were able to reclaim their gun rights, the process became commonplace in many states in the late 1980s, after Congress started allowing state laws to dictate these reinstatements — part of an overhaul of federal gun laws orchestrated by the National Rifle Association. The restoration movement has gathered force in recent years, as gun rights advocates have sought to capitalize on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

This gradual pulling back of what many Americans have unquestioningly assumed was a blanket prohibition has drawn relatively little public notice. Indeed, state law enforcement agencies have scant information, if any, on which felons are getting their gun rights back, let alone how many have gone on to commit new crimes.

While many states continue to make it very difficult for felons to get their gun rights back — and federal felons are out of luck without a presidential pardon — many other jurisdictions are far more lenient, The Times found. In some, restoration is automatic for nonviolent felons as soon as they complete their sentences. In others, the decision is left up to judges, but the standards are generally vague, the process often perfunctory. In some states, even violent felons face a relatively low bar, with no waiting period before they can apply.

Indiana is not mentioned in the story, which does report:
Today, in at least 11 states, including Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota and Rhode Island, restoration of firearms rights is automatic, without any review at all, for many nonviolent felons, usually once they finish their sentences, or after a certain amount of time crime-free. Even violent felons may petition to have their firearms rights restored in states like Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia. Some states, including Georgia and Nebraska, award scores of pardons every year that specifically confer gun privileges.
ILB: From a check of Indiana's statutes, IC 35-47-4-7 deals with restoration of the right to possess a firearm to a person who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence.

IC 35-47-4-5 concerns unlawful possession of a firearm by a "serious violent felon," a term defined in the section. "A serious violent felon who knowingly or intentionally possesses a firearm commits unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, a Class B felony."

[More] Sentencing Law Blog has posted this take on the story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 14, 2011 09:28 AM
Posted to General Law Related