About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

2008 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1045 (2008)
Firearm Owners' Protection Act and the Restoration of Felons' Right to Possess Firearms: Congressional Intent versus Notice

handle is hein.journals/unilllr2008 and id is 1051 raw text is: THE FIREARM OWNERS' PROTECTION ACT AND THE
Many federal and state statutes affect individuals' right to keep
and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the
United States Constitution. In particular, the Firearm Owners Protec-
tion Act (FOPA ) prohibits felons from possessing, receiving, ship-
ping, or transporting firearms or ammunition in interstate or foreign
commerce. FOPA does not apply, however, to individuals who have
received pardons or a restoration of their civil rights. It also exempts
felons whose convictions have been expunged or set aside. These ex-
ceptions apply as long as such pardon, expungement, or restoration
of civil rights fails to expressly provide that the individual may not
ship, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition.
Although commentators do not significantly dispute FOPA's
broad restriction on felons' Second Amendment right to keep and
bear arms, FOPA's other provisions have given rise to a federal cir-
cuit court split regarding whether a pardon, expungement, or restora-
tion reinstates the entirety of a former felon's civil rights when an ap-
plicable state law provides that felons may not possess firearms or
ammunition. The author begins by outlining the background of the
Second Amendment, FOPA's statutory precursors, and FOPA's ba-
sic framework for restoring a former felon's firearm privileges. Next,
the author uses these concepts to analyze two inconsistencies in circuit
courts' application of FOPA: (1) the effect of a state's reinstatement
of a former felon's civil rights by certificate or other document when
the state otherwise forbids the felon from possessing firearms (the
active restoration split), and (2) the implications of a state's provi-
sion for automatic reinstatement of a former felon's civil rights when
the state also prohibits felons from possessing firearms (the passive
restoration split). The author then scrutinizes whether and at what
point courts should invoke the rule of lenity used in statutory con-
struction to resolve these issues. After concluding that a singular em-
* J.D. Candidate 2008, University of Illinois College of Law. B.A. 2005, University of Texas at
Austin. Special thanks to Professor Andrew Leipold for his guidance at the early stages of this pro-
ject. I would also like to sincerely thank Emily Watson Harring, Rob Beard, and all of the other mem-
bers and editors of the University of Illinois Law Review for their hard work and dedication. Last, to
my grandfather, whose memory continues to inspire and motivate me in all that I do.


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most