Many people who are denied for a gun permit (such as a concealed carry (“CCW”) permit or a pistol purchase permit) face that situation because they were stripped of their right to possess a firearm when they were convicted of a felony. Others are simply aware that they have an old conviction and wonder if they will ever again be able to legally possess a firearm (or otherwise face being charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon). There is indeed a process through which you can petition the court to restore your firearm rights, but it is a narrow field of people who actually qualify.
The restoration of firearm rights is governed by North Carolina General Statute § 14-415.4. This law lays out the requirements of who can, and who can’t, petition to restore their rights. For example:
- You can only have been convicted of one “set” of felony convictions. This means if you were convicted of multiple qualifying felonies that arose from the same event and were sentenced together in the same session of court, you would meet this requirement.
- You must have finished serving every part of your sentence (be that post-supervision release following incarceration, probation, etc.) at least 20 years ago before you can file your petition.
- The felony (or felonies from the same set) can only be for a “nonviolent” felony. This means:
- It must be a Class C felony or lower (i.e., Class C through Class I felony)
- It cannot be a felony for which assault is an essential element of the offense
- It cannot be a felony for which you were armed with a gun or other deadly weapon in the commission of the offense, or for which possessing or using such a deadly weapon is an essential element
- It cannot be a felony for which you had to register as a sex offender
There are also other disqualifiers for eligibility besides those listed above. In addition, the term “essential element” is a legal term of art that is very often not obvious on its face. This means that some offenses you would assume classify as “violent” felonies are actually not. This can be determined by consulting with an attorney who handles firearm restoration to determine if you are in fact eligible.