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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Washington Post: Felon Voting Rights Ease Gun Ownership

On Friday, Jenna Portnoy had this article in the Washington Post about how Governor Terry McAuliffe's executive order restoring the voting rights of over 200,000 felons also eases their ability to get their gun rights restored:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order last month restoring the voting rights of 206,000 felons had an unintended consequence: It’s now easier for those ex-offenders to regain the right to own guns.

Before the order, felons who wanted to legally possess firearms first had to go through the process of having their civil rights reinstated, including the right to vote, to sit on a jury and to run for office.

That process — which involved submitting forms that were scrutinized by the secretary of the commonwealth’s staff, using the governor’s authority — is no longer in place.

Instead, felons who have completed their sentences can go straight to the step of petitioning the circuit court for firearm rights. Prosecutors review those petitions and can intervene if they believe a felon should continue to be barred from owning a weapon.
Portnoy quoted Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson as saying the decision to restore firearms rights is solely up to the discretion of local court judges and that local courts have the decision on whether or not to oppose petitions restoring the right to keep and bear arms.   It also appears that McAuliffe did not completely think through what his actions on voting rights would do on other civil rights:
McAuliffe said he hadn’t given much thought to how his order would affect felons seeking firearms. “My actions were about giving you the right to vote, to serve on a jury and run for political office,” he said recently. “My action, I didn’t think it had anything to do with gun rights. I stayed away from that.”
We'll have to see what happens with this one now that McAuliffe has been informed of the "unintended" consequences of his actions.

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