Virginia Supreme Court Reopens Door On Gun-Rights Restoration For Felons

Virginia Citizens Defense League
Virginia Citizens Defense League

Covington VA --( Defense attorney Richard Gardiner, who amongst other things is VCDL’s corporate attorney, just had an important victory in the Virginia Supreme Court.

For the last few years, because of a bad legal opinion by a Fairfax judge, felons who have had their civil rights restored by the Governor have been unable to get their firearms rights restored. The judge came up with a “unique” legal theory that he did not have the constitutional power to restore firearm rights.

Other judges in other jurisdictions deferred to that opinion claiming that they, too, didn’t have the power. That left the citizen in a hopeless position with no way to get his gun rights restored.

Richard appealed one such case all the way to the Supreme Court and won. The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 0 that Circuit Court judges most certainly do have the power to restore the firearm rights of a felon who has had his civil rights restored by the Governor.

This is important to all of us. With more and more laws on the books and more and more felonies to “get tough on crime,” any of us could become an inadvertent felon. I’ve said it before and will say it again: we need to reverse this trend. Felonies should be for very serious crimes, not for killing the wrong frog, having bolt cutters in the trunk of our car, or inadvertently stepping onto school property while carrying.


State Supreme Court says Virginia courts have say in restoring felons’ firearm rights

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS September 14, 2012 – 6:50 pm EDT

RICHMOND, Va. — The state Supreme Court ruled Friday the courts have the sole discretion in Virginia whether felons who have served their time can have their firearm rights restored.

The justices ruled in the case of two felons who had their political rights separately restored by former Gov. Tim Kaine and current Gov. Bob McDonnell. In both instances, the governors restored the former felons’ rights to vote, hold office and sit on a jury.

Both former felons, however, were not granted the right to ship, transport, possess or receive firearms. The two appealed to circuit courts in Fairfax and Buchanan counties and both courts denied the appeals.

The justices wrote that Kaine and McDonnell correctly exercised their constitutional authority in restoring political rights, and properly referred the question about the rights on firearms to circuit courts.

“The jurisdiction to restore firearm rights lost in those circumstances is vested solely in the circuit court,” they wrote.

The justices added, “A person convicted of a felony in Virginia must first obtain an order from the governor removing his political disabilities as a condition precedent to his right to petition the circuit court for restoration of his firearm rights.”

Such decisions, the court wrote, involve local concerns about public safety and should provide an opportunity for local prosecutors to have a say in the proceedings.

The justices said the lower courts erred in concluding that the governors’ actions precluded them from acting on rights involving firearms.

The Supreme Court returned both appeals to the lower courts for further review.

Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit:

  • 7 thoughts on “Virginia Supreme Court Reopens Door On Gun-Rights Restoration For Felons

    1. i am a va resedent that has had my gun rights taken away for a non felony crime and would like to get my gun rights restored for hunting porposes everyone in my famly hunts and for years all i have been able to do is hunt with a bow, what can i do to get my rights back without spending a bunch nof money in this day and age there is not a whole lot of money going around and hunting is a big part of our food supply

      1. I can help you, I had a friend in the courthouse who stuck her neck out for me and she will never be known but I know what to do and I can do it for you depending on where you live and how much the court costs are it will not be as expensive as an attorney but I MAKE NO GUARANTEES that you will get it, I am battling the supreme court for my husband right now, my fee is $100 to do it and you also have to pay the court costs, but again I can make no guarantee that you will receive it.

        1. Hi Laurie,
          Are you still offering your services to help one get “things” together for the courts?
          isleyscott at msn dot com

    2. A little leg work is all it takes. Once you have your papers with the governors seal reinstating your civil rights you take those and go to your local circuit court and petition the courts. I had to draw up my own petition and present that once all the paperwork was turned in with about 50 bucks in court costs I was given a court date before the judge and stated my case. He granted the petition then you have to send copies of all the papers and petitions ( signed of course ) to the va state police so they can update the transaction database then your all good. Start to finish took about three months with all my procrastinating.

      1. Todd I have begun all my paperwork and sent it to the courthouse. I am now awaiting a hearing date but the circuit court clerk is saying that I need an order prepared for the judge to sign but I do not know what order they are talking about. Do you have any info on what this order may pertain to so that I am ready to go when time comes for the hearing.

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