What is relief from disabilities?

Under federal law, those convicted of a felony are forbidden from purchasing or possessing firearms and explosives. Yet as the result of a 1965 amendment to the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, convicted felons were allowed to apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for "relief" from the "disability" of not being able to buy and possess guns. The "relief from disability" program was established as a favor to firearms manufacturer Winchester, then a division of Olin Mathieson Corporation.1 In 1962 Olin Mathieson pleaded guilty to felony counts stemming from a kickback scheme involving Vietnamese and Cambodian pharmaceutical importers. Under the law as it existed at the time, Winchester could no longer be licensed as a firearm manufacturer. The "relief from disability" program allowed Winchester to stay in business.

"Relief" Program Becomes Felons' Second-Chance Club
Although created to benefit one corporation, the program quickly became a mechanism by which thousands of individuals with felony convictions had their gun privileges restored.