State allows more Georgia felons to own guns

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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

RICHMOND CO. (WRDW)- More convicted felons in Georgia own firearms now. The Georgia Pardons and Paroles board granting them the right to bear arms again.

The right to bear arms. Not necessarily a right for everyone like a convicted felon, but more of them are getting that right back.

"I got caught up in the lifestyle. I guess and I felt invincible like nothing would happen to me," said a convicted felon.

Eight years ago it did. The mother of 5 was arrested for possession of cocaine and she spent two years in jail.

"I should have the right that if somebody breaks in my front door and I feel like me and my children are in danger I should protect them," she said.

From 2008 to 2013, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles gave gun ownership back to 1,400 felons. Last year alone they granted almost 700 felons a pardon to own a gun.

Buddy Lichty, owner of Shooters Augusta has the right to refuse business to anybody felon or not and when he heard more felons are getting guns.

"My knee jerk reaction like a lot of people would be hell no. Once convicted always a felon, but there's that other side. They may be they served their time maybe they are rehabilitated," Lichty said.

Felons who want to get their gun ownership back have to apply for a pardon. They have to wait 5 years after their probation to apply, they can not be arrested again and three people not related to the felon have to testify on their behalf.

"I don't feel like I'm still a bad guy. I feel like I've changed and I should be able to protect my family," she said.

The state board says so many people are applying there was a back log. They had to add more staff to go through them all with each decision made on a case-by-case basis.

"Your child, your mom, your aunt, your niece, your nephew, they might get in trouble with the law and then you're going to have a family member that's a felon and that might change your views a little bit.

South Carolina has a similar law for felons to get their gun rights back. After 5 years, they can apply to get a pardon. They have to have good behavior, letters of references, and go before the parole board.

It takes about 9 months to a year before they hear back.

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