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May 01, 2014

FAQ: Restoration of Firearm Rights in Tennessee

restoration of firearms rights

Many people have questions about whether their firearm rights can be restored after a felony conviction.

Unfortunately, Tennessee law makes it very difficult to regain firearm rights. A person convicted of a crime in Tennessee must obtain a pardon from the governor and fulfill other criteria. A person convicted in another state seeking to possess a firearm must satisfy the same requirements in the state of conviction.

Common Questions about Restoration of Tennessee Gun Rights

If you want to pursue the restoration of your gun rights in Tennessee, it will help to know some of the common questions and issues you might face as part of this process.

The following FAQs reveal many common circumstances in which you can get your gun rights restored.

I have a Tennessee felony conviction. Can I get my firearm rights restored in Tennessee?

Maybe. In order to regain firearm rights, the disqualifying felony conviction must be expunged pursuant to T.C.A. § 40-32-101. Please visit our Expungement FAQ webpage for more information on whether your record is eligible for expungement.

Will a civil restoration of citizenship rights allow me to possess a firearm in Tennessee?

No. The Tennessee Supreme Court held in State v. Johnson that a civil restoration of citizenship rights obtained through Tenn. Code Ann. 40-29-101 does not allow a convicted felon to legally possess a firearm. A civil restoration of rights restores other kinds of civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office.

I have a Tennessee felony conviction. Can I possess a firearm in another state?

Maybe. Consult an attorney in the state in which you seek to possess a firearm.

I have a felony conviction from another state. Can I possess a firearm in Tennessee?

Yes, but only if you have an executive pardon from the state of the conviction and if your offense was non-violent. 

Our law firm litigated this exact issue in the case of Blackwell v. Haslam. The Court of Appeals held that in order for your restoration to be granted “full faith and credit” in Tennessee, you must have effectively satisfied the same three criteria as a person with a Tennessee conviction, namely receipt of an executive pardon for a non-violent offense. 

It is not enough that you can possess a firearm in the state of conviction for some other reason, such as a “civil restoration of rights.”

I have a felony conviction from a federal court. Can I possess a firearm in Tennessee?

Yes, but only if you have a presidential pardon.  It is unclear whether a Tennessee court would require that the offense be non-violent (as with felonies from other states) because the Supremacy Clause may give a federal pardon additional force.

If you have additional questions or if you think you may be entitled to a restoration of firearm rights in Tennessee, please contact us