TN Court of Appeals rules firearms ban for felony drug sales is permanent

Tennessee has a statute that provides for the “full restoration” of all rights of citizenship for individuals who have committed a crime, completed their sentence and then asked a court to restore the rights to them that they lost as a result of the conviction.  These rights include, but are not limited to, the right to sit on a jury, the right to hold public office, and the right to vote in general.

Another “right” that is lost with a felony conviction is the right that is recognized and protected by the 2nd Amendment and Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee constitution – the right to keep and bear arms.

While the restoration statute suggests by its words that a “full restoration” is available, the courts have had to wrestle with conflicting and inconsistent statutes that have resulted from repeated amendments to and partial tweaks of a wide range of statutes that criminalize firearms ownership.  As a result, several Tennessee court opinions hold that the term “full restoration” is not applicable if the underlying felony charge was any degree of violent felony or any felony drug offense.

On July 3, 2017, yet another Tennessee Court of Appeals reaffirmed in Michael Fisher v. State of Tennessee W2016-01409-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 3, 2017) that a right which predates all constitutions in this nation is such that a state can with ease deny it to its citizens for life and that there is as a practical matter no means of regaining or restoring that right no matter how much time has passed and no matter how much the person has demonstrated that they have been truly rehabilitated.

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