Purchasing a firearm after your gun rights have been restored following a felony conviction

Completing_4473In Virginia, anyone convicted of a state-level felony who has had his or her political rights restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority may petition the circuit court where they reside for restoration of their gun rights.

If you have had your gun rights restored then you are able to once again legally purchase firearms, both in private transactions and from a licensed dealer.

However, there are a few questions on the paperwork which you must answer correctly or your purchase may be denied.

Let’s start with the ATF form 4473. When completing this form, question 11c asks “Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?


Your initial inclination would be to answer ‘Yes’ since this is truthful answer to the question presented. But that is not what you should do.

The question goes on to suggest that you see the attached instructions. There we find that there are exceptions for those who have been convicted of such a crime and later had both their political and firearms rights restored. This is the exception that applies to you. The instructions go on to say that you should answer ‘No’ to question 11c if you meet this exception. So, to summarize, if you have had your gun rights restored then you should answer ‘No’ to question 11c on the ATF form 4473 when applying to purchase a firearm.

However, to insure that there could never be a question about the honesty or intent of the applicant, I advise my clients to answer the question ‘No‘ and then put ‘Rights Restored‘ in the margin beside the question.

In Virginia, there is also a state form (SP65) which you will have to complete in addition to the ATF form 4473. Question 7 on the state form asks a similar question and also notes that there are exceptions printed on the back of the form. These exceptions mirror those from the 4473 and instruct the applicant to answer ‘No’ to question 7 if the exception applies to you. Therefore, you should answer ‘No’ to question 7 on the state form and then initial the answer.

And, just like the 4473, I advise my clients to check the box for ‘No’ and then write ‘Rights Restored’ in the margin beside the question.

When I assist a client in getting their rights restored, I always send a copy of the court order to the Virginia State Police Firearms Transaction Center.  However, even if they have a copy of your restoration order, you may be delayed when attempting to make a purchase.

In case there is ever any question, I would suggest carrying a copy of the restoration order with you both when you apply for, and when picking up, the firearm.

Disclaimer:  This information is presented for educational purposes only and does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and this answer may not be appropriate for other states.

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