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OPINION

We Are A Nation of Second Chances

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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As he walked out of a federal penitentiary, former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., recently talked, wistfully, about how the U.S. is a nation of "second chances."

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And we are. We are a nation which, in the face of contrition, forgives.

And yet, millions of Americans -- most of them minorities -- have, for over two decades, been denied the right to seek restoration of their constitutional right to hunt with their kids, to protect their families, and to otherwise enjoy their God-given right to keep and bear arms.

In 1986, Congress voted to create a program (at 18 U.S.C. 925(c)) to allow Americans subject to a federal gun ban to petition the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (BATF) to have their rights restored.

Potential beneficiaries include 200,000 law-abiding veterans who have been stripped of their gun rights without due process because of a traumatic battlefield experience. They also include persons with federal convictions for white-collar crimes or marijuana use -- which may be decades old.

And make no mistake about it: Because persons convicted of federal crimes have no institutionalized process for getting their rights restored, this is the only route that a person can use to regain his rights -- even if the conviction was in the 1960's and even if the conviction involved nothing more than simple marijuana use.

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Tragically, since the early 1990's, Congress has annually adopted an appropriations rider (by anti-gun Senator Chuck Schumer) which has cut off all funds for the implementation of this system to restore Second Amendments rights.

That rider needs to be deleted this year, once and for all.

Make no mistake about it: BATF has never been accused of being "pro-gun." And, for anyone to have his gun rights restored, he would have to convince this hostile "jury" that he was rehabilitated -- and that his possession of a firearm would pose no danger to society.

Face it: For an American to use the 1986 program to successfully petition BATF for a restoration of his or her gun rights would be like winning the lottery --------------- twice ----------------- in one week.

But Americans who have made mistakes do deserve a second chance. And the deletion of the Schumer amendment would give them a shot to make their case.

For a nation that believes in rehabilitation and in second chances, it is the least we can do.

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