Every American theoretically has the right to hold and bear arms. This is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The right is not as universal as some may think as it doesn’t extend to those who have been convicted of a felony, even when they have been released from prison. Until recently, the right to vote was also suspended from convicted felons. The law changed with regard to voting late last year, but this didn’t include the restoration of gun rights.
It’s not all bad news. There is a legitimate route that can be followed to get your gun rights restored in Florida, even though this route is closed if you were convicted by an out of state, federal or military court.
To have a chance of gun ownership restoration extended to you, you must follow a prescribed procedure and have completed all necessary requirements imposed by the state.
Requirements that must be met before restoration will be considered
Basically, all penalties imposed on you due to your felony conviction must have been met. Assuming that you have already been released from your prison sentence, this includes the following:
Payment of all fines that have a combined value of more than $1,000 that were imposed because of your criminal conviction or because of a traffic infraction;
Payment of all amounts due for victim restitution;
All sentences imposed on you, including community control, conditional and control release, probation and parole must have been completed;
All sentences must have been completed for a minimum of eight years.
The application for clemency process explained
When you know you have satisfied the above conditions, you are then able to make an application for restoration of gun rights with the Florida Office of Executive Clemency. You will need to get certified copies of all those documents that are associated with the felony you were convicted for. Relevant documents include the original charging sheet, the judgment and the sentence or probation order. That needs to be done for each felony, if you were convicted of more than one offense.
You can obtain the copies of these documents you need from the Clerk of Court of the county where your conviction was documented.
The process doesn’t end there as the application for clemency is then scrutinized to make sure you are eligible. Basically, that means that you meet the criteria for restoration of gun rights listed above. If eligible, an investigator will be given the task of assessing your case on an individual basis. Your application will be reviewed in order of acceptance and the investigator may want to interview you at some point. There may also be a clemency hearing scheduled. This depends on advice from the investigator.
The final decision will be to grant you clemency, i.e. to restore your 2nd Amendment rights as they apply to gun ownership and use, or to deny your application. If the application is denied, there will be a 2 year gap before you can apply again.
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