Local News

Garner Man Challenges Law Forbidding Convicted Felons From Carrying Guns

Posted September 22, 2005 5:55 a.m. EDT

— Barney Britt holds a state record for shooting the third largest deer in North Carolina history. Hunting is his passion.

"It's the challenge of the hunt," Britt said.

But by law, the 46-year-old man from Garner cannot take a shot anymore.

When Britt was 20 years old, he was convicted on a felony drug charge. He served four months in jail; and as a convicted felon, he was not allowed to carry a gun for five years.

He started hunting again in 1987, and for the next 18 years, he said, he was a law-abiding citizen.

But in December of 2004, the state passed a law to conform with federal law, which states that a convicted felon can never again carry a gun.

"I feel like I'm being violated and punished all over again," Britt said.

He said there was no appeals process, so he is suing the state to try to get the right back to hunt.

The lawsuit is now in the hands of the

N.C. Attorney General's Office

. A spokesperson for the office said it would not comment on pending litigation.

"I think it's a public safety issue," Beth Froehling, public policy specialist with the

N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence

, which supported the change in state law.

Despite Britt's nonviolent past, Froehling and other proponents of the law said it was just too difficult to pick and choose which convicted felons should carry a gun and which should not.

"Do we want convicted felons to be allowed to have firearms?" Froehling said.

For now, Britt said he has put away his guns. But, he said, he hopes he can trigger a change and hunt once again.