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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Firearm Transfer Policy from Felons

A recent U.S. Supreme Court case has finally settled a long debate regarding gun rights and legislation regarding felon weapon-possession and transfer rights. The U.S. Supreme Court found that a federal law that provides that felons are not allowed to possess firearms may transfer or sell their guns to a third party as long as the felon does not have any opportunity to use or exert influence, directly or indirectly, over the transferred weapons.

Florida Firearm Possession by Felons

In Florida, there are similar statutes on the books regarding the rights (or lack thereof) of felons who have served their time in prison. According to Florida statute, any person who has been convicted of a felony in Florida or anywhere in the United States may not have in his or her care any type of firearm, ammunition, weapon or device that is chemical or electric, unless firearm rights have been restored to the individual. To have one’s firearm authority restored, the ex-felon must apply for clemency with the Office of Executive Clemency of the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Recently there has been a significant push to make clemency procedures and restorative rights to felons an easier transition. In the past, clemency procedures have been burdensome procedures requiring most ex-felons, who have already paid for their crimes through jail time and sentencing, to wait almost five to 10 years after the fact to be able to have their civil rights restored.

Florida Clemency Procedures to Restore Firearm Authority to Felons

Under current Florida law, clemency may be permitted with the specific authority to allow firearm possession after a felony conviction. That is generally up to the Commission to decide if firearm possession should be restored in the first place. Because there are federal firearms laws in effect that trump Florida law, an ex-felon can only be considered for restorative firearm authority if he or she was convicted in a Florida court; individuals convicted in a federal court or out-of-state court will not be permitted to receive this type of pardon.

The Issue Decided on By the U.S. Supreme Court

In the current case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling expands on permitted, past practices by allowing an ex-felon to sell not only to an independent firearms dealer (approved by the government), but also to any third party that the court deems will not allow the ex-felon to exert any influence or control over the firearms. The Circuit Courts were split as to whether sales would be barred or permitted; The third, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits bar these types of sales, while these sales are allowed by the Second, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits.

The Holding Regarding Felon Transfer Rights

The justices agreed that the heart of the matter was not about whether the felon could decide where the firearms ultimately ended up, but more that the case and legislation should be more concerned about the felon’s ability to have control or direct the use of the firearms after the transfer was permitted. This would limit, for example, a felon’s ability to transfer custody of his or her firearms to his/her spouse because that transfer would still allow the felon access to the firearms even though it is no longer in his/her custody.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you are an ex-felon and are interested in the clemency process to restore your civil rights, as well as your firearm authority, an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik may be able to help or provide you information regarding the recent restorative rights movement in Florida. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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