Civil Rights Restoration

On July 16th, a federal appeals court ruled that a felon who had received a civil rights restoration under Montana law still could not own firearms because he was ineligible to receive a concealed weapons permit. The case revolved around the interpretation of what firearm lawyers refer to as the “unless” clause of 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20). Under federal law, individuals who have lost their firearm rights after a felony conviction can have that conviction ignored in certain circumstances, restoring them to their firearm rights. One such circumstance is if the person has had their “civil rights restored.”

However, even if a person has had a civil rights restoration, it does not actually restore their firearm rights if the “unless” clause applies. The clause states that a civil rights restoration is not effective if it “expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.” The defendant in the Montana case was legally allowed to own firearms under state law, but it was still a crime under federal law only because he could not get a Montana concealed weapons permit.

Ohio law, much like Montana’s, provides that individuals can receive a civil rights restoration after completing their sentences. There are also crimes that cause an individual to lose their federal firearm rights but not their state firearm rights. There are some individuals who can regain their firearm rights by getting their records sealed, and other individuals who would still have a federal firearm disability after an expungement. Getting that analysis wrong can mean ten years in federal prison and a $10,000 fine.

The gun lawyers of Barney♦DeBrosse, LLC have the skills and experience necessary to help our firearm clients navigate the dangerous and confusing relationship between state and federal firearm laws. If you or someone you know is unsure of their firearm rights status, contact our office to schedule a firearms right analysis today.