Covington VA –-(Ammoland.com)- 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: www.vcdl.org