News and Record
North Carolina's law banning convicted felons from possessing firearms doesn't apply to a convicted kidnapper who served his time in prison and was later pardoned, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
"The plain and unambiguous language" of the law is that it "does not apply to individuals who have been pardoned," Judge Donna Stroud wrote for the three-judge appeals panel.
Lee Franklin Booth's gun rights were restored with his pardon by former Gov. Jim Hunt in 2001, the court said. Booth had been convicted of second-degree kidnapping in Craven County in 1981 and released on parole four years later.
Booth, 54, tried to start a gun-making business in 2007, but was blocked from getting the needed federal license because regulators interpreted North Carolina's felony firearms law to mean he couldn't own a weapon.
The law doesn't specify any type of pardon, so all of the types North Carolina governors can issue apply, the court ruled. That countered an argument by state attorneys defending the North Carolina law and arguing Booth was barred from gun ownership.
"We note that in various other statutes our legislature does specify that particular types of pardons have different consequences, but here the legislature chose not to modify the word 'pardon' but instead spoke to pardons in general," Stroud wrote.
I'm not sure what "pardon" really means. Doesn't the governor or the president give those away as gifts? Don't they have little to do with the person's innocense?
On the other hand when a person is exculpated, for example, based on DNA analysis, the action speaks directly to their innocense.
I would have to say that, unless a person's innocense is restored, they should not regain their gun rights.
And I reject outright the simplistic view that convicted felons who are deemed fit to return to society after having served a prison sentence are also fit to own guns safely. The folks who say that also say, if a person can't be trusted with a gun they can't be trusted to be released from prison. This is obviously pro-gun nonsense.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.