Pardons with gun rights once existed primarily for those who committed property crimes, minor thefts or other offenses that caused no physical harm to their victims. Sometimes, the pardons excused youthful mistakes by people whose records as exemplary citizens had spanned decades.
But in a departure from trends in many other states, Georgia has dramatically increased the proportion of violent offenders among those regaining firearms privileges, the Journal-Constitution found in analyzing gun-rights pardons granted to more than 1,400 felons from 2008 to 2013. Violent offenders accounted for 6 percent of all who received gun-rights pardons in 2008; last year, 31 percent.
The parole board has restored gun rights for 32 people who committed murder or other forms of homicide, 44 sex offenders, 96 people convicted of aggravated assault, and 68 whose crimes included weapons offenses. Thirty-eight of those 68 had been found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon – a crime that a gun-rights pardon renders moot.
Part 2: Georgia felons re-arm — with state's blessing