State court rules pardon restores man's gun rights
Posted June 4, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.