BATFE Advises Firearm Licensing Review Board NOT to Restore Licenses
In a 2004 firearm licensing reform bill, GOAL was successful in establishing the Firearm Licensing Review Board (FLRB). The Board’s purpose was to restore Second Amendment Civil Rights to those who have had their rights taken away for having committed minor misdemeanors. According to the state, approximately 250 people have successfully acquired an FID Card or LTC by the Board.
Recently, GOAL has been made aware the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has advised the Department of Criminal Justice Informational Services (DCJIS) that the FLRB is issuing FID Cards or LTCs to persons who are considered to be prohibited under federal law. As a result, the DCJIS has shared a letter they have sent to the BATFE confirming their opinion.
Essentially, the BATFE is claiming that all of those that were granted an FID Card or LTC are still statutorily prohibited under federal law. Under federal law 18 U.S.C § 922(g) convictions for all of the applicants were misdemeanors punishable by more than 2 years. This would mean that the crime cannot be forgiven unless it is expunged or vacated somehow.
There has always been an issue with federal law not recognizing a so-called partial restoration of rights. They have always claimed that if a person loses their Second Amendment Civil Rights, they cannot be restored piece meal. Either they are fully restored or they are not. This would be similar in fashion to voting rights. If you were convicted of a crime that resulted in the loss of voting rights, the government would not accept a process that would restrict your right to vote in certain elections.
Another issue brought up by the BATFE was a 2007 United States Supreme Court case called Logan v. United States 552 U.S. 23. The use of this ruling involves language stating that civil rights cannot be restored that have not been taken. Essentially what the ruling is saying is that if the actual law a person violated does not itself include as a penalty the loss of rights, then the rights have not been taken. So for example, the penalty clause in the driving under the influence statute would have to list the loss of civil rights.
Our problem here is that the BATFE does not seem to equate the loss of a license to the loss of a civil right. In their eyes, the civil right is maintained, but the “privilege” of a license is lost. This is a very contorted way of looking at things to be sure.
GOAL has been informed that with the BATFE’s opinion, FID Cards or LTCs for those previously approved by the FLRB will no longer be renewed by the state. The state does have the authority to revoke a license, so they simply won’t renew them. However, local licensing authorities can make a decision to either revoke them or simply let them run out.
GOAL is consulting our friends at the national level to see if there is a way to rectify this problem. It is bad enough these good folks lost their rights once, now it is going to happen to them again.