Want a Firearm But Have a Felony Conviction?
Tennessee offers a court procedure to restore citizenship rights, including the right to possess a firearm. T.C.A § 40-29-101 et seq.
First, gather certified records of the conviction and then determine the maximum sentence for the class of conviction. For example the maximum sentence for a Class E felony is two years for a standard offender. For a Class B felony the maximum sentence would be twelve years.
Assuming enough time has passed, file a “Petition for Restoration of Citizenship Rights” in your home county or the county of conviction. (See a sample petition).
The petition should include:
- A statement of reasons why citizenship rights should be restored.
- Certified copy of judgment of conviction
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation criminal records check. (Available online for $29).
Your lawyer may want to attach letters from law-abiding members of the community. These letters summarize how they know you that you have been a good citizen.
It usually takes about 60 days to schedule a hearing. At the hearing the judge will review evidence that shows you have been a good citizen since the conviction.
There is a presumption that citizenship will be restored. This presumption can be overcome by proof that the petitioner is not eligible for restoration or there is a good reason to deny the petition. Generally, there will be no reason for direct testimony. This means that you will not necessarily have to present evidence at the hearing. In fact most petitions are granted by agreed order.
After your rights are restored you must submit a certified copy of the court order to the elections administrator in your home county. The administrator verifies the order and then issues you a voter registration card.
Note: This procedure applies even if the conviction was in federal court.
WHO IS NOT ELIGIBLE?
Anyone as been convicted of:
- A felony involving the use or attempted use of force, violence or a deadly weapon
- Felony drug offense
- Voter fraud
- First degree murder, including any attempt, solicitation or facilitation to commit first degree murder
- Second degree murder and any attempt or facilitation to commit second degree murder
- Especially aggravated kidnapping and any attempt or facilitation to commit especially aggravated kidnapping
- Especially aggravated robbery and any attempt or facilitation to commit especially aggravated robbery
- Aggravated rape and any attempt or facilitation to commit aggravated rape
- Rape of a child and any attempt or facilitation to commit rape of a child
- Aggravated arson and any attempt or facilitation to commit aggravated arson;
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Especially aggravated burglary
- Aggravated child abuse
- Aggravated or especially aggravated sexual exploitation of minor