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State court rules pardon restores man's gun rights

Posted June 4, 2013

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— The North Carolina Court of Appeals, in a ruling issued Tuesday, upheld the interpretation that a pardon is a pardon as it applies to the right to possess a gun.

Lee Franklin Booth pleaded guilty in 1981 to one count of felony non-aggravated kidnapping. He had completed both his prison sentence and parole before Gov. Jim Hunt, in 2001, issued him a Pardon of Forgiveness.

The state argued that was not enough to restore Booth's gun rights because it does not absolve him of the crime. North Carolina has two types of pardons: pardons of innocence, which clear a person's name and record, and pardons of forgiveness, which are granted to those who are guilty of a crime.

In making his case, Booth's lawyers claimed that, because he had been pardoned, he should not be held to the law that prohibits felons from possessing firearms. The court essentially agreed that the Felony Firearms Act should not apply to his case.

The appeal came down to semantics, and the court found that in the statute which limits gun possession, the word "pardon" was unqualified.

"It is true that there are different types of pardons, but the word “pardon” in North Carolina General Statute § 14-415.1(d) is not modified by any adjective or other descriptive phrase and thus includes all types of pardons," the justices wrote.


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  • BernsteinIII Jun 5, 2013

    "He pleaded guilty to a felony....he shouldn't be able to own a gun as a convicted felon."

    Why if he served his time and paid back society?

  • whatelseisnew Jun 5, 2013

    THis is a bad ruling. The guy was guilty of a felony. Now had it been a white collar crime such as embezzlement, then I might agree with this decision, but this man is guilty of Kidnapping. I would not allow a proven kidnapper to have weapons.

  • 8points17seconds Jun 5, 2013

    I am pro gun but this is not someone that should had those rights reinstated. Do a little research.

  • moonpie Jun 4, 2013

    He pleaded guilty to a felony....he shouldn't be able to own a gun as a convicted felon.

    "North Carolina has two types of pardons: pardons of innocence, which clear a person's name and record, and pardons of forgiveness, which are granted to those who are guilty of a crime."

  • ekscholl Jun 4, 2013

    The article fails to address the specific circumstances of the case of non-aggravated kidnapping. All of you commenting who are passing judgement without knowing all of the details of the case, are irrationally jumping to conclusions simply because you despise guns. Consider this: Let's assume the case involved Booth's biological child of which he did not have legal custody. For those that don't realize: non-aggravated kidnapping means that the child was not forcibly restrained or detained in any way during the kidnapping, indicating that maybe the child new the kidnapper. Family perhaps? In that case, all it would take is for the upset, but custodial, parent of the child to press charges. With that in mind, I would say that the article is a poor attempt to rile up more hatred toward guns and those that own them. Its appalling to see how many of you out there insist that it is a terrible decision to restore this man's gun rights without knowing all of the facts.

  • sinenomine Jun 4, 2013

    Pardons shouldn't be handed out lightly - absolutely true. Sell them to the highest bidder, like Bill Clinton did.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 4, 2013

    Along the lines of what Inter Alios said, I find it pretty sad and pathetic that a person's right to bear arms can be taken away simply due to a "felony". When I was a kid, I thought of a "felony" as something horrible like killing somebody. As I grew older, I discovered it can be for something as petty as operating a business without a business license. No harm intended, but "the law is the law", so people get felony records for all kinds of petty stuff these days.

    Is this the governments way to reduce the number of guns held by citizens? There is a world of difference between keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and the current law of keeping guns out of the hands of a person for what "felony" means.

  • Inter Alios Jun 4, 2013

    The North Carolina Court System does not have the authority to define the Governor's pardon authority, which is absolute, and which is granted by the N.C. Constitution. NC Attorneys General dating back to Rufus Edmisten having taken the position they had/have the authority to define the Governor's pardon authority. For years they have been advising the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that a NC Governor's pardon of forgiveness does not restore a convicted felon's right to have a firearm. Only recently has Roy Cooper been forced to say otherwise. There is simply no rational basis for denying the right to own a firearm to a 30 or 40 year old man who was caught with a felony amount (over 1 1/2 ounces) of marijuana when he was a 16 year old kid.

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 4, 2013

    "Today we need “new laws” but yesterday it was “enforce existing laws.” What will it be tomorrow?" - Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance

    If there are existing laws that address the situation (whatever it may be), then they should be enforced. If not, then new laws or law modication is needed. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  • my2cents-justsaying Jun 4, 2013

    Canons of construction people. That's what it boils down to. Law school 101.