I have a federal felony conviction. Am I eligible to have my gun rights restored?
Unfortunately, if you have a federal felony conviction, you are not eligible to have your gun rights restored. In the Beecham case in 1994, the Court held that the restoration of firearm rights is governed by the law of the convicting jurisdiction. This means that if an individual’s gun rights disqualification stems from a federal conviction, then the restoration of firearm rights must come via a federal relief process. The rationale behind this is that you cannot give back that which you did not take away. Since the federal government disqualified you from purchasing, possessing, or carrying a firearm, you cannot go to the Commonwealth of Virginia and ask them to give you those rights back. Only the federal government can restore rights lost through a federal conviction. Here’s the rub – Congress originally created a federal restoration process that would be administered by ATF. A disqualified individual would fill out ATF Form 3210.1 and they would evaluate eligibility on a case-by-case basis. However, since October 1992, Congress has not appropriated any funds for the administration of the restoration mechanism. As such, currently, the only means of lifting a federal firearms disqualification is by applying for a Presidential Pardon via the Department of Justice’s Pardon Attorney’s Office. As you can imagine, Presidential Pardons are very limited.