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House Votes to Let Nonviolent Ex-Felons Restore Gun Rights

June 20, 2015

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  • The House voted the first week of June 2015 to allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to review applications to own firearms from ex-felons by adjusting their Justice appropriations bill. Colorado Representative Ken Buck, a Republican, spearheaded the effort and suggested that not doing so was antithetical to American ethos by stating, “America is a land of second chances. One mistake should not define your future.” Using the example of a Colorado grandfather who wanted to obtain a gun license in order to go hunting with his grandson, Buck argued in front of the House that non-violent ex-felons should be allowed to restore their gun rights. The grandfather he described had been convicted of a felony as a teenager as a result of writing a rent check which had bounced.

    Previously, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had been able to review applications from ex-felons, but in 1992, New York Senator Chuck Schumer blocked the appropriations Congress allocated to the ATF for this specific process. Consequently, for the past 23 years, non-violent ex-felons were unable to restore their gun ownership rights. The passage of Buck’s amendment to the Justice appropriations bill does not mean that all convicted non-violent felons who have completed their sentence will automatically be able to own a gun, however.

    Yet as stated by the National Rifle Association, now those who have been blocked from obtaining a firearm in the past will be “one step closer to the restoration of those rights” because they will be able to petition the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and have their application reviewed. Though there are no similar efforts in the Senate as of now, the decision constitutes a major victory for gun rights advocates.

    To watch Ken Buck and read the full source, please click here.

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