LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— A bill to restore gun rights for certain former state felons will go before committee a second time early next month.

This would apply only to people convicted of a nonviolent state felony who petition for it at least 10 years after they have finished their sentence.

State Rep. Vivian Flowers (D) first presented the bill in early Feb. Many spoke against the bill, saying it would conflict with the governor’s ability to pardon people.

“We can’t support this bill as it’s written,” Scott Bradley, the Executive Director of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association said.

The bill would not apply to federal felony convictions, which would ban someone from gun ownership permanently. The same is currently state law, but if this passes, a person could petition to regain those rights after at least 10 years.

Flowers said she got this idea from a constituent who reached out to her.

“He has a family, a business and property,” Flowers said. “He wants to be able to protect that the same way I do.”

Flowers said since the bill initially failed by just a two-vote margin, she has spoken with lawmakers and vested parties to allay some concerns. She said language has been rewritten to correct some issues.

“I believe firmly, wholeheartedly, that will mean this bill passes,” Flowers said.

When everyday Arkansans imagine a lawmaker filing a gun bill, they might not think of Flowers, she said.

“I’m a Democrat, I’m a Black woman and I’m from Pine Bluff,” Flowers said.

Flowers said this bill is more of a reentry bill than a gun rights bill, which is why she said bipartisan support is possible.

“If you would’ve told me back in 2015 when I got elected that one of the bills I would work hardest on in this role was a gun bill, I would laugh,” Flowers said.

Nathan House owns the Arkansas Armory in Sherwood, and he said the shop gets calls from older people who picked up state felony charges in their early 20s.

“At that point, we’ll have to let them know we can’t really help them,” House said.

House said he thinks this bill should pass and provide a pathway for people to regain their rights.

“It just seems like having a positive goal for people to reach for is better than just telling people, ‘Sorry, you’re just going to be in this category for the rest of your life, and there’s no way out,'” House said.

Flowers said she anticipates bringing this bill back before committee in early March.