ATLANTA (AP) - An increasing number of convicted felons in Georgia have been getting their gun ownership rights reinstated by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles restored firearms rights for more than 1,400 felons between 2008 and 2013, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday. The board restored gun rights for 666 people last year, which is 10 times the number of pardons that restored firearms rights six years ago.
The overall number includes 358 felons who were convicted of violent crimes, 166 who were convicted of drug crimes and 32 who killed another person. Between 2008 and 2013, the board denied about 700 applications from felons looking to have their gun rights reinstated.
Board members declined the newspaper’s requests for interviews. The longest-serving member took office in January of 2009. Board spokesman, Steve Hayes, said the board’s turnover rate could explain an overall increase in gun pardons. In 2012 the number of violent felons who had their gun rights reinstated was 71. The number increased to 208 in 2013.
“Everyone deserves an opportunity for a second chance,” said former parole board chairwoman Gale Buckner, who is now a judge in Murray County. She added that a second chance might require a higher level of scrutiny for applicants who were convicted of violent crimes and crimes against children. “It would have to be an extraordinary person for me to vote to have their gun rights restored,” Buckner said.
Among other stipulations, convicted felons are granted the right to carry firearms after their sentences and probation have been completed for at least five years, Hayes said.
The state also requires applicants to not have been arrested for additional crimes and three people who are not related to the applicant must attest to the applicant’s rehabilitation before their gun rights are restored. Although the pardons reinstate felons’ rights to bear arms, they do not expunge felons’ criminal records.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, https://www.ajc.com
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