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Restoring Firearm Rights After An Adult Felony Conviction

Washington state law makes it possible for attorneys to help people convicted of adult felonies to restore their firearm rights.

Washington State Law:

RCW 9.41.040(4) provides the requirements for restoring the right to possess a firearm after an adult felony conviction. In general those requirements are the person:

  1. must not have been convicted of a sex offense;
  2. must not have been convicted any class A felony;
  3. must not have been convicted of any felony that has a maximum sentence of twenty years;
  4. must have spent at least five successive years without being convicted of any crimes;
  5. must not have a current charge pending; and
  6. must have no other prior felonies which disqualify the person from possessing a firearm that is counted in the person’s offender score. RCW 9.41.040(4).

The above requirements are necessary to have the right to possess firearms restored on the state level only. Also, the only courts that may restore a person’s right to possess firearms are the court that ordered the prohibition or the superior court of the county where the person lives.

Federal Law:

Federal law also makes it illegal for a person to possess a firearm who has been convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” 18 USC 922(g)(1). This language includes felony convictions. But in general a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” is determined according to state law. A conviction that has been expunged, set aside or for which a person has had civil rights restored is not considered a conviction under federal law. 18 USC 921(a)(20). It is critical for a gun rights restoration on the state level to be compatible with federal law. Steps must be taken to make sure the disqualifying conviction is one that has been “expunged, or set aside or for which a person…has had civil rights restored” so that the disqualifying conviction will not be considered a conviction for purposes of federal law. Case law provides further guidance on this subject.

Once firearm rights are restored it is still necessary to exercise caution. Government agencies will take time to update their records. Government agencies can also make mistakes. Government has further clamped down on unlawful firearm possession since the Obama Administration took office. For these reasons, our firearm rights attorneys will suggest that the client exercise caution by taking “baby steps” after their rights are restored. Such steps may include waiting a reasonable period of time, attempting to obtain a concealed carry permit, or taking steps to get cleared by the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). Wrongful delays and denials of firearms purchases can happen. Our attorneys will provide guidance on how to address wrongful delays or denials when attempting to purchase a firearm from a Federal Firearm Licensee (“FFL”).

If you have been convicted of a felony and believe you meet the requirements of RCW 9.41.040 set forth above contact Platt, Thompson and Buescher today. Call 360-474-3994 or contact us online to speak with a firearm rights restoration attorney serving Western Washington, Seattle, King County, Oak Harbor and Island, Whatcom, and Skagit counties.