Branstad Simplifying Process of Restoring Firearms Rights for Non-Violent Offenders

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Governor Branstad's office is simplifying the process of restoring firearm rights to convicted felons.

However, that doesn't mean he'll knowingly be putting weapons in the hands of violent offenders.

"I require that they not have committed a violent crime," Branstad said. "If you committed murder or armed robbery, forget it. You are not going to get your firearms rights restored because we are not going to jeopardize the safety of the public. If you committed a non-violent crime and a considerable amount of time has gone by, you can make applications for that. That form has been reduced from five pages to two and from 43 questions to 29.

The streamlining measures will make it easier for non-violent criminals to restore rights to a firearm and make it easier to assure violent criminals won't get theirs back.

While announcing the changes, the Governor also defended his other policies that deny automatic restoration of voting rights to felons in Iowa. Last month, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled his policy to block restoration of voting rights is legal.

The governor says the state faces a problem in getting criminals to repay their debts and withholding rights until they pay up will correct the problem.

"We have a huge problem in this state," Branstad said. "$699 million of unpaid fines and court costs. Just think about that: $699 million. That's almost one-tenth of our state budget in fines and court costs. 94% of those are criminal and traffic."

The governor says neither the voting rights or firearms rights processes are difficult to complete if you've completed your sentence and meet eligibility requirements.