Restoration of Firearms RightsMonday, March 28th, 2011
Recently, the North Carolina Legislature enacted S.L. 2011-2 (H 18), which clarifies the effective date of the law authorizing restoration of firearms rights under certain circumstances. This bill amends the effective date of S.L. 2010-108 (H 126), (codified as § 14-415.4. Restoration of firearms rights), which allows people convicted of nonviolent felonies to apply for restoration of the right to possess firearms and creates an exception from firearms restrictions for white collar felony convictions. The 2010 act contained a standard effective-date clause used in criminal law legislation—that is, that the act applied to offenses committed on or after a particular date, in this instance February 1, 2011. This wording created some question whether the restoration procedure and exception applied to a person who committed an offense before that date. The 2011 amendment clarifies that the restoration procedure and exception takes effect February 1, 2011. Thus, whether the offense date is before or after February 11, a person is eligible for restoration of firearm rights if he or she was convicted of a nonviolent felony as defined in G.S. 14-415.4, completed his or her sentence at least twenty years ago, and otherwise meets the requirements for restoration. The act is effective March 5, 2011.
The text of the Act, specifying the criteria under which the rights may be restored, is: Article 54A. The Felony Firearms Act; § 14-415.4. Restoration of firearms rights:
(a) Definitions. – The following definitions apply in this section: (1) Firearms rights. – The legal right in this State of a person to purchase, own, possess, or have in the person’s custody, care, or control any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction as those terms are defined in G.S. 14-415.1 and G.S. 14-288.8(c). The term does not include any weapon defined in G.S. 14-409(a). (2) Nonviolent felony. – The term nonviolent felony does not include any felony that is a Class A, Class B1, or Class B2 felony. Also, the term nonviolent felony does not include any Class C through Class I felony that is one of the following: a. An offense that includes assault as an essential element of the offense. b. An offense that includes the possession or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon as an essential or nonessential element of the offense, or the offender was in possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the offense. c. An offense for which the offender was armed with or used a firearm or other deadly weapon. d. An offense for which the offender must register under Article 27A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes. (b) Purpose. – It is the purpose of this section to establish a procedure that allows a North Carolina resident who was convicted of a single nonviolent felony and whose citizenship rights have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes to petition the court to remove the petitioner’s dis-entitlement under G.S. 14-415.1 and to restore the person’s firearms rights in this State. If the single nonviolent felony conviction was an out-of-state conviction or a federal conviction, then the North Carolina resident shall show proof of the restoration of his or her civil rights and the right to possess a firearm in the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred. Restoration of a person’s firearms rights under this section means that the person may purchase, own, possess, or have in the person’s custody, care, or control any firearm or any weapon of mass death and destruction as those terms are defined in G.S. 14-415.1 and G.S. 14-288.8(c) without being in violation of G.S. 14-415.1, if otherwise qualified. (c) Petition for Restoration of Firearms Rights. – A person who was convicted of a nonviolent felony in North Carolina but whose civil rights have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes for a period of at least 20 years may petition the district court in the district where the person resides to restore the person’s firearms rights pursuant to this section. A person who was convicted of a nonviolent felony in a jurisdiction other than North Carolina may petition the district court in the district where the person resides to restore the person’s firearms rights pursuant to this section only if the person’s civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm, have been restored, pursuant to the law of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred, for a period of at least 20 years. The court may restore a petitioner’s firearms rights after a hearing in court if the court determines that the petitioner meets the criteria set out in this section and is not otherwise disqualified to have that right restored.
(d) Criteria. – The court may grant a petition to restore a person’s firearms rights under this section if the petitioner satisfies all of the following criteria and is not otherwise disqualified to have that right restored: (1) The petitioner is a resident of North Carolina and has been a resident of the State for one year or longer immediately preceding the filing of the petition. (2) The petitioner has only one felony conviction and that conviction is for a nonviolent felony. For purposes of this subdivision, multiple felony convictions arising out of the same event and consolidated for sentencing shall count as one felony only. (3) The petitioner’s rights of citizenship have been restored pursuant to Chapter 13 of the General Statutes or, if the conviction was in a jurisdiction other than North Carolina, have been restored, pursuant to the laws of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred, for a period of at least 20 years before the date of the filing of the petition. (4) The petitioner has not been convicted under the laws of the United States, the laws of this State, or the laws of any other state of any misdemeanor as described in subdivision (6) of subsection (e) of this section since the conviction of the nonviolent felony. (5) The petitioner submits his or her fingerprints to the sheriff of the county in which the petitioner resides for a criminal background check pursuant to G.S. 114-19.28. (6) The petitioner is not disqualified under subsection (e) of this section.
If you live in Southeastern North Carolina (Brunswick, New Hanover, or Pender Counties) and think you qualify for restoration of your right to bear firearms and are interested in having your rights restored, call Collins Law Firm for a consultation at: 910-793-9000.