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Restoring your firearms rights

When you are convicted of a felony, the loss of your right to bear arms under state and federal law is automatic. This includes your ability to purchase, possess and transport firearms. However, firearms rights can be restored.

First things first

Before your right to bear arms can be restored your civil rights must be reinstated. Civil rights consist of your right to vote, the right to become a notary public, the right to serve on a jury and the right to run for public office. Civil rights can be restored through the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

The Commonwealth’s office identifies individuals who may meet the Governor’s standards for restoration of rights, but they consider restoration of rights in the order the individuals were released from prison. Petitioning the Commonwealth’s office to have your rights restored will give your case priority over those simply waiting on a list.

Next Steps

Once your civil rights have been restored, the next step would be petitioning the circuit court in your jurisdiction. In your petition, you would request permission to purchase, possess and carry a firearm. If you are not a resident of Virginia, you would need to petition the circuit court where you received your disqualifying conviction.

In the case of a federal felony conviction, you must request a presidential pardon through the U.S. Department of Justice. Also, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in Virginia there is currently to method in place to have your firearms rights restored.


The restoration of your firearms rights can be unrestricted or restricted, depending on the final outcome of your petition. Unrestricted firearms rights, as the name implies, have no limitations and you can purchase, possess and transport firearms. In restricted firearms rights you can only purchase and possess rifles and shotguns for hunting purposes.

Simply filling out the paperwork does not guarantee the petition for firearms rights will be approved. The right to bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right that you should not be excluded from based on past deeds. Having an attorney experienced in gun rights restoration assist you with the process improves your likelihood of success.