The Wall Street Journal reports that a high percentage of the small number of pardons issued by George W. Bush so far have gone to ordinary people eager to regain the right to own firearms for sport or recreation.
On the surface, the list of the 14 people pardoned by the president this week shows few common denominators in terms of time served, geographic location or even type of crime, except that the felonies were non-violent. But a closer look at some of the newly pardoned shows many of them are church-going, blue-collar workers from rural areas (and ardent Bush supporters) who had little trouble finding jobs after their convictions. There is another common thread: the important role firearms once played in their lives.
President Bush has pardoned fewer people — 171 — than any president since World War II, with the exception of his father, who pardoned 74. Presidents don’t discuss their reasons for issuing pardons, with few exceptions. Nor do they tell petitioners why their wish was granted. The Justice Department’s “pardon attorney,” who reviews hundreds of petitions a year and recommends candidates to the president, had no comment.
Coincidentally or not, at least seven of the 14 pardoned on Monday are former hunters or shooting enthusiasts. In interviews, five of them said they wrote in their petitions to the government that a desire to win back the right to bear arms was a chief reason for wanting a pardon.