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Imprisoned Cunningham Wants Gun Rights Restored When Released

Former San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke'' Cunningham wants the right to carry a firearm when he is released from federal prison later this year.

The 70-year-old Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy, recently asked a judge to help him regain his rights to own weapons. As a felon, Cunningham is legally forbidden from carrying arms.

Judge Larry A. Burns wrote back, saying he had no power to help Cunningham, according to U-T San Diego, which posted both letters on its website over the weekend.


Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison in March 2006. In addition to pleading guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy, he admitted receiving at least $2.4 million in gifts, cash and trips from defense contractors in exchange for steering government work their way.

Since being incarcerated, Cunningham has denied accepting bribes and said he regretted his plea. He is scheduled to be released to a halfway house in Little Rock, Ark., in December.

In his letter to Burns, Cunningham said he wants to carry a gun for sport shooting contests and hunting. He said he plans to live out his days with his mother and brother in rural Arkansas, writing books.

Burns said in his response that the 1968 federal law banning felons from possessing weapons contains no exemptions for hunting and sport shooting and that Cunningham could only bypass the law by receiving a waiver from the Secretary of the Treasury.

Prior to the bribery scandal, Cunningham represented California's 50th Congressional District. He resigned amid his legal woes. Prior to politics, he flew an F-4 Phantom for the U.S Navy during the Vietnam War.