Wednesday, July 28, 2004

What's a former West Virginia convict to do to possess a gun legally in Virginia?

In Farnsworth v. Com., the Virginia Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Clements dismissed the arguments of the defendant who claimed that the restoration of his civil rights in West Virginia precluded the use of his West Virginia conviction as a predicate for subsequent conviction in Virginia for being a felon in possession of a firearm under Va. Code 18.2-308.2.

Reading the opinion, it seems like there may be some kind of constitutional issue out there somewhere, but Farnsworth didn't articulate it, and that is, the statute apparently excepts the convictions of those whose civil rights are restored by the Governor of Virginia, but not those whose civil rights are restored by some other governor. Could Farnsworth have gotten his civil rights restored in Virginia in connection with his West Virginia crime? I'm not sure that he could. This suggests to me that somehow the statute discriminates against out-of-staters, which might violate Due Process or the Interstate Commerce clause or one of those good things.

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