Gun Rights Restoration FAQ

1. Am I eligible to have my gun rights restored in Virginia?

If you were convicted of a felony in any Virginia circuit court, you may be eligible to have your gun rights restored.

If you have federal felony convictions, or a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic assault, there may be other laws that prohibit your right to possess a gun.

2. Do I need to have my civil rights restored before I can get my gun rights restored?

Yes you do. Please check on the status of your civil rights if you are unsure if your civil rights are restored.

If you were part of Gov. McAuliffe's blanket restoration, you will need to have your rights restored by an individual grant of restoration. The blanket restoration was deemed invalid and you may not have your civil rights restored.

Additionally, there are certain prosecutors who do not accept automatic restoration of civil rights as permissible. This challenge will have to be addressed on a case by case basis.

3. Can I get my gun rights restored if I have a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence?

You never lost your right to possess a gun under Virginia law, but if you were convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, you lost your gun rights under federal law. At this time, there is no way to have your gun rights restored under federal law.

If a misdemeanor domestic assault charge was dismissed after a deferred finding, commonly known as "first offender," you may still be eligible for restoration after a felony conviction.

4. What if I have a felony conviction in federal court?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is not funded by Congress to restore weapons rights. There is no way, at this time, to restore federal gun rights.

5. I have a conviction for a violent felony. Can I get my gun rights restored?

Yes. The nature of the felony is not a prohibition to filing a petition to restore your gun rights. That being said, what you have done since the conviction, the time that elapsed since the conviction, any other law violations that may have occurred between your violent felony and the time you petition for restoration of your gun rights, will all be factors that a Court will consider.

6. Can I still get my gun rights restored if I live outside of Virginia?

Virginia allows someone to petition for the restoration of their gun rights even if they live outside the Commonwealth.

7. What if I was convicted of a felony in another state?

Virginia cannot restore gun rights that were taken by another state. You must go to the state in which you were convicted to have your rights restored under that state's laws.

8. Why can't you give me a guarantee that my gun rights will be restored?

The short answer? I am not the one making that decision. Based on the experiences I have had with the Courts and Commonwealth's Attorneys, I will tell you if I believe your petition is well founded or if I believe you would be better off waiting. I may suggest you accomplish some goals before you petition.

I routinely receive phone calls from people who tell me that some other attorney guaranteed they would get their gun rights back. No attorney can guarantee this and don't believe this.

I will tell you if I believe you should go forward and I will tell you if I believe you should wait. It serves neither of us if I do not answer your questions truthfully.

9. How long will this process take?

Drafting and filing a petition happen shortly after we meet and talk about all of your personal details, life events, employment, and education. After this petition is served on the Commonwealth's Attorney, we wait the required 21 days, which is a rule of civil procedure. The snag may come if we have to appear for a hearing and get worked into the Court's docket.

Generally, however, you can realistically expect 2 to 3 months.

10. Will I have to go to court?

Some Commonwealth's Attorneys in some jurisdictions require a hearing for every petition that is filed. Others will endorse an order I send and we never appear in court.

If your petition is one that requires a hearing, or if the Commonwealth has objected to your petition, we will prepare for this hearing and present your case to the Court so we can get the best possible outcome.