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Gun-rights restoration when the cops don’t agree and the feds are sloppy record-keepers

I have a friend who’s a big, bad felon. You know, one of those eeeevil villains who’s not fit to own a firearm (Unlike Florida jihadi Omar Mateen, who was vetted multiple times by the FBI, found totally a-okay, and breezed through the NICS background check).

My friend’s felony record still stands, but in the state where he now lives (not the one where he committed his savage depredations), he discovered he was eligible to have his rights restored. He went to court and he became a “real” citizen again.

He was raised around firearms and always enjoyed them. Being a serious freedomista he also understands the connection between guns and liberty. So on both counts he was delighted at the prospect of purchasing his first pistol.

Court order in hand (and having waited sufficient time for the order to make its way all the way through the system), he went into a gun store for the very first time in his life. He had a great time checking out various sidearms before settling on a big Glock. Filled out the application. Looked forward to taking his purchase home.

Denied. “Red bar bigger than the gun,” he told me. Heartbreaking.

But it gets worse. A week later, state police showed up on his doorstep on a Sunday afternoon, threatening to arrest him — now or at any time. Yes, now or at any time. Either the state police or the feds can do the honors now that he — this vicious felon — has dared tried to buy a gun.

“Talk about entrapment by estoppel,” he sighs. “This is text book.”

The state cops knew about the court order. They had a copy. But tough luck.

His lawyer says the law is on his side. Even the district attorney says the law is on his side. Both have written letters to the state police confirming that. But the state police will do nothing to clear him through NICS — while being perfectly willing to arrest him now that NICS has wrongly said no.

He says, “I read something about 78k denials for felonies last year (I think), and wonder how many of them are folks like me who spent thousands to get pardons, expungements, restorations at the state level, only to have the feds still deny because they just don’t update their records. According to this USA Today story
there is no working appeals process, so once you’re in [the NICS system as a prohibited person] you’re in.”

Now he either faces a long, expensive legal battle, which he may not win, or a lifelong ban coupled with threats to his safety and his freedom.

His state doesn’t allow private sales, and even if it did he wouldn’t take the risk now that the cops are watching him.

I’m writing to ask if anyone has any experience with something like this. I’m pretty sure my friend will come in, answer questions and otherwise participate in discussion on this.

Oh. And about that eeeeeevil, deadly felony that makes him totally unfit to protect his home or go plinking at a quarry? Thirty-plus years ago he was convicted of possessing $40 worth of crank and $3 of cocaine.

“Yup,” he says, “$43, I didn’t forget the zeroes, weren’t any. Never been a violent person, either.

“I’d like to find out whether I’m alone or if others suffer the same fate, and if so to bring some light to it. It would feel like I helped if we can prevent someone else from falling into the same trap.”


  1. Fred
    Fred June 17, 2016 11:44 am

    Not a member nor a fan, BUT, they do win in court. I pray for his success.

  2. Bear
    Bear June 17, 2016 1:16 pm

    IANAL, but it seems to me he’d have to clear the felony in the state where he was convicted. That’s who reported to the NICS database.

  3. RickB
    RickB June 17, 2016 1:23 pm

    A former neighbor of mine became a non-citizen for driving without a license. Really! I suggested that he go to a local legal aide society. I moved shortly thereafter and never heard the outcome.

    He had his license suspended for being late paying his child support (he was out of work). After finding a new job he was pulled over while driving to work. He lost his license for another year. But he still had to go to work–he had to pay child support and, now, a hefty fine. Then he was pulled over again (that’s what made it a felony).

  4. Shel
    Shel June 17, 2016 1:37 pm

    A typical bureaucratic response would be that they need more funding to keep the data base current. Most likely they’ve already used that one.

  5. Jim B.
    Jim B. June 17, 2016 7:37 pm

    This may be where they got the idea for creating the No Fly List. Or the No Fly List gave them the idea of not letting you get guns ever, once the NICS says DENY. Just cops thinking they know better than anyone even if the government says it’s ok for them to own guns again.

  6. Fred
    Fred June 17, 2016 8:04 pm

    Likely Gun Control Vote(s) Monday 20 June.

    Please call and write several times this weekend.



  7. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty June 18, 2016 6:15 am

    Write to ….? And why would I want to do that?

    So, this big mean monster breaks in my door and says he’s going to beat me… oh, and he’s going to kill me if I resist.

    I’m supposed to write a polite letter asking him please, please don’t hurt me or…. What was that “or” I should mention if the letter didn’t induce him to back off? Is there an “either/or” to these petitions? Or plain groveling and begging.

    Letters to the NRA are even more pointless, of course.

    I don’t think so.

  8. Pat
    Pat June 18, 2016 7:46 am

    Well, ML – I think a few thousand letters asserting, “Molon Labe!” might get the point across. I’m sure they understand that much Greek…

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty June 18, 2016 9:02 am

    Just words, Pat. Delusional. So far, nobody’s been willing to back it up with anything but more words. Need at least 3% of the population to actually do that. Even then, I don’t expect the cretins to actually understand or react rationally to it… But even a few thousand polite, begging letters? I’m sure they are laughing their *** off. The whole point is that they don’t give a damn, even if they understood.

  10. Skytrooper
    Skytrooper June 18, 2016 3:13 pm

    If a person is a state (not federal) convicted felon, and if the state in which the felony was committed has fully restored all of that person’s “privileges” to possess firearms (all firearms, not just long guns) then under the Supreme Court decision in Caron v. United States, 524 U.S. 308 (1998) they’re no longer a “prohibited person” and may possess firearms and ammunition under federal and state law. However, in order for that person to successfully purchase a firearm through a FFL, he or she must go through the FBI NCIS Voluntary Appeal File process. The person essentially has to prove to FBI NCIS officials why they’re no longer a “prohibited person.” Once this is done, FBI NCIS officials will provide the felon with a personal ID number (PIN). This PIN (when provided to the FFL making the sale or transfer) will allow the person to successfully complete the NCIS “instant background check” since it will link to the VAF identifying them as no longer being a “prohibited person.”

  11. Skytrooper
    Skytrooper June 18, 2016 3:18 pm

    Correction, that should be NICS, not NCIS.

  12. Fred
    Fred June 18, 2016 6:08 pm

    ML, The reason I do it is not to expect results. The reason I do it is for me to know I tried, for years and years, before I had to shoot. It’s my soul not theirs that I’m responsible for. Many here don’t want to work within the system. Good, don’t. I’m just doing my stupid grassroots job ’till bang bang time.

  13. Shel
    Shel June 19, 2016 10:02 am

    I think contacting the pols does make a difference. Otherwise, they wouldn’t rail so much about the NRA’s influence. They’re still individuals who’s primary consideration is self interest, which diminishes greatly if they don’t get re-elected, although no doubt in many cases TPTB make back room compensatory offers. Jeff Cooper said something to the effect that we can’t win, but if we keep trying, we may not lose. And, similarly to Fred, it makes it a lot easier for me to look in a mirror.

  14. the friend
    the friend June 19, 2016 2:29 pm

    Bear, can’t be done. Horrible lawyer who 8 years after my matter got disbarred for being a horrible lawyer. The Bar protects itself. He can’t practice law, but there is no recourse for the victims of his malpractice/incompetence. So my record is mine for life.

    Skytrooper, see comment to Bear. Plus, I moved far away from the old state. And, from what I understand, and the article Claire linked, there is no one at nicks to update a file or issue a pin even if I could. Because of so many new apps, the feds unstaffed the appeals dept. , and according to their own site (which hasn’t changed in a while) it’s over a year delay to even have an appeal heard.

  15. Skytrooper
    Skytrooper June 20, 2016 11:32 am

    “The friend,” in this case you attempted to purchase a firearm from a FFL without having a FBI NICS UPIN to enter in block 9 of BATFE Form 4473. Taking a court order or other documentation to the gun store isn’t (as you discovered) going to do a thing. You failed the NICS background check because the FBI database still lists you as a “prohibited person.” States readily provide the Feds with information which disqualifies people from being able to purchase a firearm; state officials make no effort to notify the Feds when someone is no longer a “prohibited person.” The burden to accomplish this rests entirely on the individual. The means to do this is the NICS VAF process. No court or state police are going to do this for you; you have to submit the application, proof you’re no longer a “prohibited person,” and fingerprint cards.

    How far you live now from the state in which your felony occurred shouldn’t matter so long as you have the necessary proof to supply to the NICS VAF reviewers. You can get the fingerprint cards required for the VAF application done at your local police or sheriff’s department. My wife lives thousands of miles from the state where her nonviolent felony occurred yet she successfully completed the VAF process and received a UPIN (despite the BATFE doing everything it could to get her denied). Getting a VAF UPIN is not the same thing as appealing a denied sale at a gun store. You have to receive a UPIN before you attempt to buy a firearm then ensure the UPIN is entered correctly on the Form 4473 and the FFL notified. If you’d gone through the VAF process and received a UPIN, your purchase wouldn’t have been denied. Yes, thanks to the FBI NICS being understaffed, it now takes much longer to get a VAF processed than it did several years ago. However, going through the NICS VAF process and obtaining a UPIN is the only solution if you want to purchase firearms through a FFL.

  16. the friend
    the friend June 23, 2016 8:51 pm

    Thanks for your insight and direction.
    Unfortunately, nothing can be done to change my prohibited person status in the convicting state, so my situation allows me no grounds on which to file a VAF app.

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