That is the question faced by the state of Tennessee, as Kent Scott Blackwell believes his restoration of all rights by Georgia cannot be trumped by the Tennessee state legislature.
The Tennessean reported last week that Blackwell, who served five years for a drug conviction and was subsequently granted a full pardon, believes that when Georgia restored all of his rights, that included his 2nd amendment right to bear arms.
The Attorney General in Tennessee, on the other hand, believes that his state does not have to respect the Georgia pardon, and has a vested interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of felons, pardoned or not.
It has shaped up to be something of a convoluted Constitutional question. Basically, if Georgia no longer claims to nullify Blackwell's federal right to own and carry a firearm, Tennessee cannot usurp that role for itself, even if Blackwell resides in Tennessee.
Blackwell's lawyer doesn't believe the issue at hand is that complicated. He told the Tennessean:
“The pardon restores constitutional rights — that’s what a pardon does, therefore, it restores his right to a firearm. That’s it, in its simplest terms.”
The State of Georgia's pardon notice itself reads:
“All civil and political rights, including the right to receive, possess, or transport in commerce a firearm … are hereby restored."
Despite the apparent clarity of the pardon's language, a judge initially ruled against this line of argument, but the Tennessee court of appeals has heard arguments and will take on the case.
The Tennessee Supreme Court decided a similar case in 2002, and ruled against the pardoned felon's right to own a gun.But the landmark Heller vs. District of Columbia case has set the precedent that gun ownership is an individual right.
Some of those who support Blackwell's quest for gun ownership believe the Heller case will force the Tennessee Supreme Court to recognize pardons as a restoration of all rights, including the 2nd Amendment.
A ruling from the Tennessee appeals court is expected within a few weeks.
Blaze readers -- what do you think, should pardoned felons be allowed to own guns?