Current Arkansas law prohibits anyone with a felony conviction from possessing or owning firearms with a few exceptions. The proposed legislation would provide an opportunity for some people with felony convictions to regain the right to possess guns.
How might this legislation impact people with felony records in the state?
Current gun laws
Currently, persons with a felony record who receive a conviction for possessing a firearm face up to six years in prison for a first offense. Any subsequent convictions for possessing a firearm with a felony record could result in five to 20 years in prison without eligibility for parole.
The proposed legislation would make it possible for convicted felons to petition the state to restore their gun rights 10 years after they finish their prison sentence. The petition would dismiss, discharge and seal the felonies on their records. However, only people with nonviolent felony convictions would be eligible.
Reason for the proposed change
Advocates for the bill believe that once a person has served their sentence and is no longer considered a threat to society, the state should not continue to punish that person by withholding their constitutional right to bear firearms. The lawmaker who introduced the bill stated that the story of a man who completed his sentence almost two decades ago but can not go hunting with his kids because of the felony conviction on his record inspired her.
Legislators anticipate widespread support for the bill when the next General Session begins. If passed, thousands of Arkansas residents could become eligible to possess firearms in the state.