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How to restore gun rights

Under the Second Amendment, every citizen in the United States has a right to carry a firearm. However, the law also restricts or removes this right under specific circumstances, including felony or domestic violence convictions.

Every state requires a background check to legally purchase a firearm, and if a conviction shows up, a store owner should not sell a firearm to that person. However, in some cases, people can have their gun rights restored. This is the process.

Federal law

After individuals receive convictions that have punishments of one or more years in prison, typically a felony, from any court, they lose their federal rights to carry a weapon. However, prospective gun owners can apply for restoration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, which can fail to reply or deny your application.

New laws prevent federal courts from hearing these appeals, so restoration is unlikely. In fact, in many cases, only a presidential pardon can restore your federal rights.

Washington State law

You can restore your Washington state gun rights. This only occurs if you receive your civil rights back or the court releases you from any penalties of your conviction. Your civil rights include voting, holding public office and serving on a jury.

In the state, those convicted of felonies can have their rights restored after completing their punishments, e.g., serving prison time and paying all fines and fees. When this is complete, these individuals receive a Certificate of Discharge.

Then, prospective firearm owners need to file a petition with the court where they received their convictions or their county’s superior court. After paying a $240 fee, these individuals may or may not need to appear in court, and the judge should grant their gun rights restoration if they fulfilled statute requirements. However, Washington does not require that petitioners prove rehabilitation, that they are not a danger or that they can handle a firearm safely.

If the petition receives approval, these individuals can purchase, carry, own and operate firearms and apply for concealed carry permits, just like others who do not have criminal convictions.