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Local businessman seeks gun rights for felons

Posted at 6:57 PM, Mar 22, 2016

A local congressional candidate and businessman is challenging a law that prohibits felons from owning guns, calling it unsafe and unfair.

Barry Michaels says the key to his lawsuit is separating violent criminals from non-violent criminals.

Outside of his Rhodes Ranch home, Michaels spoke to 13 Action News candidly about feeling defenseless because he’s living without the right to bear arms.

"Living alone and getting older, you know, you start thinking," he said.

Like all convicted felons, federal law prohibits Michaels from owning a gun. He did time in the 1990s for a series of white-collar crimes. However, as violent crime continues to tear across the Las Vegas, he says enough is enough.

 "The 2nd Amendment to me is very clear," Michaels says.

On March 15, Michaels filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that felons convicted of non-violent crimes should have the right to own a gun beginning five years after their release if they haven't committed a crime during that time. 

 "I think there’s a big difference between a violent felon and a non-violent felon, and that's what the lawsuit is about," he said.

13 Action News also sat down with Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is also running for Congress in the same district. She tried to accomplish the same thing on the state-level, sponsoring a bill in 2015. It passed the Assembly 41 to 1.

"When you see a vote of 41 yeses, that means Democrats and Republicans voted for this bill alike," said Fiore.

However, the bill didn't make it to the Senate.

"They would not bring it up for a vote, and that was simply because I refused to help them with their tax package," said Fiore.

Michaels’ mission is to gain enough support from the community to upgrade the case to a class action lawsuit in which there are so many people with the same complaint, the court recognizes the entire group as a single plaintiff.

If you're interested in joining this class action lawsuit, it doesn't cost any money.  You can sign up here.