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February 05, 2023

Criminal Justice And Guns: Should Felons Be Barred From Gun Ownership?

The Gun Control Act of 1968 has done tremendous damage to the freedoms we hold dear. It has created an unaccountable bureaucracy that has systematically chipped away at those freedoms, and has done very little to protect Americans from "gun violence," whatever that is!

Is there a legitimate government interest in controlling the possession of firearms? As a 2nd Amendment absolutist I say, "no." But as a rational observer of the human condition I will grant that in certain circumstances there may be societal demands that trump those freedoms. But that is the slippery slope that has led to "Red Flag" laws, which are stunningly anti-freedom and an affront to the concept of a free people's right to due process and a rational legal system.

The short answer is: Any loss of our freedoms must be preceded by all of the guarantees of a fair trial codified in the United States Constitution. If the government or your neighbor wants to take your guns? Go to trial.

But current U.S. law also mandates the loss of 2nd Amendment rights if (among other things) one is convicted of a felony, or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (Why misdemeanor domestic violence is as bad as a felony is a question for another day). Oh, and marijuana use is another one, even though it is legal for recreational use in many states!

Any functioning society must have a criminal justice system that imprisons lawbreakers. That is axiomatic. But inherent in that system must be clearly defined punishment. And if a felon serves his prison sentence and is released to rejoin society, then why are his 2nd Amendment rights curtailed? Are felons magically protected from violence and thus have no need for self defense? Obviously no. And all but six states restore their voting rights eventually. Are felons barred from exercising any other rights protected by the Constitution? Can they exercise their free speech rights? Are they safe from unreasonable search and seizure (after probation ends)? Must they house soldiers in wartime?

The obvious and sensible argument is that felons have demonstrated that they are willing to break significant laws, and that society has an interest in keeping them from access to weapons that might make their next forays into crime even worse than their original crimes.

But that is simply extending their incarceration past the legal penalty as decided by a jury. And it also assumes that citizens who possess weapons legally also commit crimes with them, which is a ridiculous assumption, and one that can be refuted with reams of data.

What's that? Am I going around in circles? Why yes...yes I am!

[Cross-posted at CutJibNewsletter.com]

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posted by CBD at 12:00 PM

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