Felons in Wise County are petitioning to get their gun rights back. Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said when Governor Terry McAuliffe's move to restore thousands of felon’s voting rights opened a legal pathway for felon’s gun rights to be restored.
Two cases are now moving through the Circuit Court of Wise County. Both individual petitioners are convicted felons who have had their voting rights recently restored. One was convicted in 1998 with aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a minor. The other petitioner was convicted in 1987 for unlawful shooting of a firearm into an occupied dwelling.
If the governor restores a felon’s civil rights, including the right to vote and serve on a jury, they can then petition the circuit court judge to give them a permit to carry a gun. Slemp says his office has been fighting those petitions because they have seen cases where individuals who have recently been restored by the governor are still committing other crimes.
Governor McAuliffe has restored voting right to more than 150,000 Virginians.
The governor’s office also said Governor McAuliffe has introduced a new process that restores rights on a case-by-case basis.
But still, Slemp said safety concerns and stress this places on victims makes his office opposed to the petitions.