This Note surveys a class of citizens that Congress and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have already acted to exclude from the fundamental right to own a firearm—convicted felons. Initially, this exclusion may appear rooted in a rational basis. After all, felons did commit a serious crime; do we really want them to have guns? However, when one considers that many felony convictions are the result of nonviolent offenses, the purportedly logical basis upon which lawmakers have
decided to retract a constitutionally guaranteed right quickly disappears.
This Note questions whether felons convicted of non-violent crimes are truly a class that society deems unworthy of the right to own a firearm. It argues that the exclusion of non-violent felons from lawful firearm ownership is not constitutionally sound, as it is a punishment imposed based solely on the status of the individual rather than on the dangerousness of the individual’s crime, which is unconstitutionally discriminatory. Part II of this Note discusses the history of disparate treatment of convicted felons and traces the development of federal and state gun control laws in relation to felon firearm possession, including recent Supreme Court developments that may change the way that courts around the nation approach gun rights. Part III defines the modern concept of the “felon” class and looks to Kentucky case law to explain the current political climate of restorative rights in the state and elsewhere. Finally, Part IV examines measures implemented by interest groups to reverse collateral sanctions against convicted felons and proposes a resolution for restorative gun rights that balances public safety with state constitutional rights in Kentucky.