Executive Branch

Bush and Pardon Recipients Share Trait: They're Supporters of Right to Bear Arms

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Seven of the 14 people forgiven by President Bush last week are former hunting or shooting enthusiasts. Five even wrote Bush expressing their desire to win back the right to own a firearm as the chief reason for wanting the pardon, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Leslie Collier, a 50-year-old corn and soybean farmer in Charleston, Mo., has been barred by law from owning a gun since pleading guilty to poisoning bald eagles a decade ago, the newspaper reports. Collier wrote to the president, a strong defender of the Second Amendment, seeking a pardon so he could go hunting with his kids. He also explained that he accidentally killed the eagles while trying to poison coyotes that were attacking wild turkeys and deer on property he farms, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Robert Mohon Jr. of Grant, Ala., who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distributing marijuana in the 1980s, sought the president’s forgiveness in order to pass down his father’s hunting rifles to his grandchildren. According to the newspaper, Richard Culpepper attached photos of his English pointer hunting dog to his letter requesting a pardon for a 1987 conviction of lying to the government to receive unemployment.

Convicted felons lose a many basic civil rights. While many felons can win back certain rights from their states after completing their punishment, only a presidential pardon can restore the right to bear arms, Margaret Love, a former pardon attorney under the first President Bush and President Clinton, told the newspaper.

Bush has pardoned 171 people, fewer than any president since World War II, with the exception of his father, who forgave 74.

Collier picked up one of his old rifles from his parent’s house and went into the woods with his 22-year-old son within hours of receiving the call from the Justice Department, the newspaper reports. It was the last day of deer season.

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