Convicted felons forfeit their right to bear arms under federal law. Every year, thousands of felons across the U.S. have their rights reinstated, often with little or no review, reports the New York Times. In several states, they include people convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and manslaughter. Congress started allowing states to dictate these reinstatements in the 1980s as part of an overhaul of federal gun laws orchestrated by the National Rifle Association. The restoration movement has gathered force as gun rights advocates have sought to capitalize on the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms.
This gradual pulling back of what many have assumed was a blanket prohibition has drawn relatively little public notice. Indeed, state law enforcement agencies have scant information, if any, on which felons are getting their gun rights back, let alone how many have gone on to commit new crimes. The Times examined hundreds of restoration cases in several states,