The Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Of course, in any post concerning firearms rights, you're going to hear about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The recent and more widely known debate about firearms concerns whether the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to keep and bear firearms of any and all types, even those (like assault rifles) that can cause major harm in the wrong hands.
But there's another issue concerning the Second Amendment that's no less important.
Banning Every Felony Offender for Life Is Unconstitutional
The fundamental constitutional presumption is that every citizen in North Carolina has a right to keep and bear arms, and that this right should not be revoked permanently for an entire group of citizens (all those with a felony on their records) without some avenue toward due process. In other words, an individual petitioning for his or her firearms rights should have the case examined under its particular facts and circumstances. Under North Carolina law, though, history has shown that any felony conviction will result in the loss of your right to keep and bear arms.
ANY Felony Conviction
That's any felony conviction, even the non-violent crimes, even those offenses bearing no relationship whatsoever to guns. You lose your right to own or possess a firearm. That means no gun for personal defense at home or in public. No gun for target shooting at the range. No gun for hunting. No gun for any purpose.
The law has put further and further restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. At one point in recent history, North Carolina residents convicted of any felony would lose their right to own or possess a firearm for their entire lives (that was in 2004, when state lawmakers overruled a provision in the North Carolina Felony Firearms Act that had allowed for automatic firearms rights restoration in certain cases).
Only recently has this begun to change.
File a Petition to Have Your Rights Restored
There is now a chance that you can get your rights to own or possess restored. It's a rather strict five-factor qualification process, but it is possible for some North Carolina citizens to file a successful petition. (Call us today at 877-880-5753 if you have any questions about this process.)
In Part II of this series, we will discuss the first avenue toward restoring your gun rights: North Carolina's restoration process, which includes the five factors that you generally must satisfy in order to succeed (but not always, as we will explain).
In Part III, we will discuss the second avenue: the possibility of bringing a constitutional challenge under the Second Amendment, colloquially known as a Britt challenge, named after the 2009 case Britt v. State, in which a North Carolina man managed to bring a successful constitutional challenge to have his rights restored.