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Pardoned felon still has right to own guns, N.C. court rules

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(AP) RALEIGH, N.C. - A North Carolina appeals court says the state law banning felons from owning firearms doesn't apply to a convicted kidnapper who served his prison time and was later pardoned.

The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that 54-year-old Lee Franklin Booth's gun rights were restored with his pardon by former Gov. Jim Hunt in 2001. Booth had been convicted of second-degree kidnapping in Craven County in 1981 and released on parole four years later.

Booth tried to start a gun-making business in 2007, but was blocked from getting the needed federal license because regulators read North Carolina's 2004 felony firearms law to mean he couldn't own a weapon.

A three-judge appeals court panel ruled the state felony firearms law plainly says a governor's pardon of a crime restores gun rights.

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