Previous Post
Next Post

Anyone who’s served their time for a crime should have their gun rights restored, regardless of recidivism rates. The Supreme Court has ruled (as it should) that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. So even if former criminals as a class are a clear and present danger to society, there is no basis for excluding individual felons from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Or vote. Or speak freely. To those members of the gun rights community who try to appease firearms fence straddlers by going all law and order, pointing at FBI Brady checks and legislation prohibiting felons from owning guns or ammo (I’m looking at you NRA), I say check out Jerry Rasmussen’s story at Is he the exception that proves the rule or the exception that shows us the error of your ways?

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. You’re not going to get main stream America to agree to allowing convicted felons to own guns. That stance will just cost us more support for our rights and won’t achieve diddly.

    As for me, I think non violent felons should have their gun rights restored. Punishing a person for the rest of their life for a non violent offense seems a bit extreme.

    But hell, I have a pristine record. Never been arrested. Last traffic ticket was 16 years ago. Honorably discharged vet. And according to people like Difi and mikeyb I shouldn’t be trusted with a ccw. And I can’t get one simply because of my zip code.

    Apparently there are constitution free zones as well as gun free zones in America.

    • Is it fair that felons have their 2A rights revoked? Maybe, maybe not. In general, I’m pretty hardcore for gun rights, but I don’t see much point in fighting for felons to have gun rights or voting rights. The public doesn’t support that much, and I’m much more concerned with my rights and the rights of other law abiding citizens, as well as stupid gun laws which would needlessly turn law abiding citizens into felons.

      I think felons who have done their time (probably a fraction of their time due to budget cuts and early release) would benefit much more from job training such as auto detailing.

    • I have to agree with jwm here.
      I think after a certain period of time a felon should have his right restored.
      There have been other articles on this, and I don’t think this is an impossible task. First those who have been convicted need to get back on their feet. Whether assistance is needed or not. I think there is a tipping point for felons who commit another crime. Is it 1 year, 2 years? So for non violent I would say once that time has passed, they are free and clear. If the person was convicted of a violent crime or sexual related felony than they never get their rights restored.

      I too am in JWM’s shoes. While not impossible in my county, it is highly improbable. Plus the cost associated with it is almost more than the gun itself.

      • I think after a certain period of time a felon should have his right restored.

        Yep, that period of time is the full term of a prison sentence for the felony or felonies committed. If the community thinks that those terms aren’t long enough to consider the felon as having paid their debt to society, then they need to extend them. But once that debt is paid, full rights should be restored, barring mental problems as diagnosed by an accredited professional.

        • This is strange, I do agree that once someone has done their time, they truly have ‘paid their debt to society’ and should have their rights restored, but the mental picture of a felon with a gun doesn’t jive in my head. If you’re gonna consider their debt paid, it’s kind of an all-or-nothing deal, but that doesn’t mean I welcome it without a few reservations.

    • Is this not proof that the government fully admits (to itself) that it doesn’t even try to “rehabilitate” or “correct”?

  2. From a logical and moral perspective, you are correct. But note the interesting conundrum here. If felons were allowed to vote, they would overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Which would ultimately lead to a curtailment of gun rights for everyone.

    Politics – and political philosophy – is a dirty, no-win business.

    • Denying a man his rights because he was in possession of a drug or other some such thing banned via mala prohibita law is injust.

      Non-violent felons should never have their gun or voting rights denied to them.

      Violent felons should go without them for some years, but not indefinitely.

      And neither should be arrested for defending themselves with a firearm.

      • I agree about the malum prohibitum issue, but many laws are malum in se, and sometimes they overlap and blur together.

        Your point about violent felons begs the question: how do you measure rehabilitation? This is the underlying issue regarding three-strike laws.

        Perhaps mere possession by a felon should not be punishable, but if the weapon was used in a crime, it becomes an automatic throw-away-the-key sentence. However, that doesn’t help the crime victim, does it?

        I wish I knew the answers.

        • I would say that a violent felon that goes five years without any additional arrests and subsequent convictions should be able to have his rights fully restored.

          If he’s a habitual offender he shouldn’t be released from prison at all.

  3. Leaving aside the politics and morality. There is, IMO, one over-riding priority. The safety of my family, Also the children, elderly, etc. that for one reason or another are defenseless.

    Specifically, the violent criminal. Over the years, I have come in contact with a large number of this group. Primarily through my work and volunteer activities.

    To make it lawful for this group to legally own a firearm is a nightmare you do not want. It is already easy for them to obtain firearms illegally. As a society, it is foolhardy to give them legal access.

    Here is an activity that will convince you all. Join a volunteer organization that offers counseling to inmates in our maximum security prisons.

    One hour session in there, with them, will convince you to change your opinion.

  4. Those who argue that “felons” should not have guns are using the same argument of anti-gun folks… that it is the gun which is evil as opposed to the actions of the individual. It is illogical and inconsistent with liberty to argue that someone somehow forfeits his right to property based on some previously performed evil act.

    “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
    – H. L. Mencken

    • Sorry Henry, must disagree. Treating firearms as simply “property” does not fly. The next step in that argument is everyone may own a nuclear device, since it is “property”.

      Next, lets talk about “evil acts”. Once a person has shown through their actions, that they will take human life, against the standards of the current civilization, then society has the responsibility and the necessity to protect itself. This happens to be one of the reasons we want to keep our “right” to bear arms in this country, called self defense.

      it is easy to fall into the trap that if a person “pays his debt to society” through prison / jail time, for a past transgression, he gets a free pass.

      That assumes that: Society will forgive and forget,……….NOT!

      He was re-habilitated and will become a law abiding citizen……. NOT!

      Wishing thinking will not keep anyone safe. There are evil people in this world. I mean the type that wake up in the morning and derive REAL pleasure in hurting others.

      We have no means to treat these people.

      Fundamental to the creation of law is to protect the good guys,,and the innocent / defenseless against those that with to do them harm. So, real basic here.

      Opening the door to known evil persons to legally own firearms????

      With that scenario, you better stock up on your zombie killers…….because protecting yourself and your family just became a nightmare.

      • I have to agree with respect to violent recidivists. A large number of felons are sociopathic–they don’t care about you or anyone else. They will kill you because you looked at them cross-eyed, or didn’t accord them proper “respect.” They are not “moral” by most moral standards. Killing, robbing, etc, is not a sin–it is a way of life. Are some rehabilitated? No doubt. But the sociopathic personality will say and do anything to get you to believe them, and since it is not wrong to them to lie, how are you gonna know who is telling the truth?

  5. Yet the laws in the US are there for a reason.

    This man may have defended himself but was also breaking the law in the first place by having a gun and two wrongs still do not make it right.

  6. Not really.

    It is pretty clear the ex-convict was breaking the law before he shot anyone
    just by having the firearm. I bet he even knew he was breaking the law.

    If anyone wants the laws changed they should make a go for it.

  7. I’m not in favor of ex-cons with a history of violence having their gun rights restored. An ex-con who one time lost their temper and attacked someone and was then sentenced is not IMO a serious danger to society. Minor offenses such as stealing food I am ok with having their rights restored. There is also a middle ground to consider with the ex-con first staying clean for a number of years and/or restricting the ex-cons gun rights to owning less tactical type guns. Figuratively speaking, I would be more comfortable with an assumed reformed non-violent ex-con ex-pimp maybe having the ok to buy a revolver for self-defense though I’m not comfortable with such a person owning a full-size semi-auto with 32 round mags that are available.

    • So then we have to define tacticool weapons. That is a slippery slope we don’t want to go down. I do think a waiting period is fine, and certainly they would be on probation, so while that is going on their case officer would have input as well.
      You know as well as I that someone with training can shoot a wheel gun almost as fast and as accurately as an AR. Watch some cowboy shooting action sometime..
      You are as dangerous as your training and motivation allows you to be. How many rounds you have and what the gun looks like means little. Also we know for a fact long guns represent less than 7% of all gun related crime in the US. Now you have to realize that number includes shot guns, bolt action rifles etc. AR’s or AK’s represent a fraction of that. I think we just need to take it on a case by case basis.

  8. The 2A has NO disclaimers. NO fine print. NO exceptions.

    The 2A CLEARLY states “…shall not be infringed.”

    I support the 2A

  9. I have read a lot about this subject and I have come across an instance where a judge ruled that it is legal for a felon to use a gun to defend himself as long as it was legally posessed by someone else before a life and death situation arose where they otherwise were within the law. after the shooting the gun is then returned to the legal owner. If this firearm was legally possessed by his wife or girlfriend he may be ok….

    • Not saying you didn’t read that, but I will say source citation is needed.

      In several states, especially CA, it is a crime in and of itself for a legal gun owner to provide a prohibited person access to a firearm. In any situation. So in the scenario you described, everybody goes to jail.

      • This gentleman’s problem is not that he killed someone and wounded another. He will not be charged with a crime for those acts–those acts are presumptively lawful under California law. His problem will be one of simple possession of ammo and a firearm, a malum prohibitum crime. If the DA has any sense, he will not bring those charges, just confiscate the gun and let him off with a stern warning–as happened not long after McDonald in Chicago when an 80 year old ex-felon defended his “bar” from an attempted armed robbery with a firearm that he could not lawfully possess. He was not prosecuted. If this guy is otherwise clean, I think he will probably cop a plea and get probation. Or at least he should. NEver can tell. Although this is the land of fruits and nuts, our criminal justice system is very strict.

  10. Whether ex cons should or should not have gun rights is a moot point because that decision needs to come after every single decision impacting those that have never broken the law in the first place. Priorities.

  11. JPD, it is only evil to actually cause harm, either to another person or their property. There is nothing evil about having an increased POTENTIAL to do harm. When we start trying to punish people for an increased risk of causing harm, we fall into a trap of whose judgement do we use to assess the risk. That leads to statism and tyranny. Liberty demands that as long as you do not harm another person or their property, then you are free to do as you please. If your actions do harm someone, then you are indebted to pay restitution. Once you are no longer indebted, no one can stake a claim over your body or property. Liberty is simple. Statism is convoluted and complicated.

    • Henry, again, in most ways, we think alike. So, lets use an example. You have a violent, repeat, serial rapist and murderer. He is released from prison, Within weeks, rapes and murders several more women.

      This is not made up. Happened here in Texas a few years ago. So, explain to me how you “pay restitution” or make that right.

      I made the distinction earlier violent criminals. I meant violence against people. I could care less about property.

  12. That is a tough call for me to make. Some felons don’t deserve any respect, rights or privledges, even if they have served their time. Example, a guy that mugs old ladies causing them injuries for the $5 to $10 in their purses. Saying that a criminal is totally clean and fully restored citizen once having served his/her time would mean that pedophiles can live near schools, playgrounds and girls’ camps once released from jail. That doesn’t work either. I suppose that those types of criminals maybe should never be released? How do we insure that all serial rapists, serial killers, kidnappers, child molesters, etc in all states, don’t have legal access to firearms when released from prison, and differentiate them from the casual pot smoker/dealer, shoplifter, car thief, embezzler? Part of the problem is that some states class some crimes as felonies that other states class as misdemeanors. How do we impose a national standard without stepping on and violating state’s rights? Even now, some states allow felons to regain their rights, and some don’t. Would a screening proccess similar to a parole board be a good way to evaluate felons as far as returning their rights? Or can that be shifted, loaded and manipulated for political reasons by county or state lawmakers? There is a lot if “ifs” and and that worries me. I also realize that making blanket rulings, like all felons are never getting their rights back is like trying to legislate safety in advance. I’ll confess that if I had never worked with any convicted felons, I’d probably be on the side of restoration. But having seen with my own eyes, what some of these guys do when back in society, makes me really cautious on this. For instance, one guy I worked with was sentenced to 3 to 5 years for viciously beating a man to steal his briefcase. He served all 5 of his years in prison, because he was a hard case, would not obey the rules. Eventually he was shot and killed about 4 years after I stopped working at that job. Like I said, it is a tough call

    • Agreed.
      I know some ex-cons I trust more than people with clean records. The parole board type of screening process sounds like a good basis for a rights restoration process as well.

  13. Come on people…..

    This is only a difficult decision or tough call for those of you who introduce emotion into the argument, failing logic.

    Either you do, or you do not, support the 2A, as our founding father wrote it.


    • Have to disagree RKBA. I firmly support 2A. But that also includes the well documented thinking and philosophy of our founding fathers who wrote the thing.

      I am as pragmatic as they come. Plus, I feel share some of the thinking of our founding fathers.

      If you were to bring them back and tell them you were restoring the right to bear arms to violent, repeat, murders, rapists, and gang bangers, they would question your sanity.

      So, when it comes to protecting my children, your children, other family members, elderly, I will strive to keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals.

      I fully support the loss of rights our society imposes on that group of felons.

      When it comes to non violent crime, not so much.

      I pray that you never lose someone you care about to one of those with a firearm they obtained legally or illegally.

      • I have lost people close to me, but the instrument of their demise was not a gun, but instead a car piloted by someone heavily inebriated.

        Just to be clear, you would then be OK if the EX-Felon had used a stick, baseball bat, crossbow, pool stick, butcher knife, etc. to defend himself – Just so long as it was not a gun?

        Because, we all know, Guns are bad, MKay?

        • No, in defense of himself, picking up a gun from a family, or friend,

          I was talking about legally obtaining a firearm. I am not naive enough to accept that any substantial percentage of repeat, violent criminals is buying one just for “defensive” purposes.

          Everyone has the right to defend themselves with whatever is available. but the proof is in the pudding.

          If you have a repeat offender, it does not take a mental giant to figure out his intentions are probably not lily white.

          So, if this example person gets taken out, because his only defensive weapon was a frying pan? Sorry, he should have been pro-active and practiced his knife throwing skills.

          On another note, my sympathy for your loss. I too, have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.

          If you want an issue that REALLY needs more attention, and kills many, many more people than firearms……that is what needs the attention of our society.

  14. I live right around the corner from this event – same neighborhood. I run through there all the time. We have the occasional car burglary and what not – normal stuff. When a friend of mine alerted me to the report I was surprised to see that the shooter had been arrested. We have a nice little neighborhood here – yeah – it’s working class – so it isn’t always pretty – but I’ve seen lots of support.

    When I saw that he was a felon – it really made me sad. Not because I don’t want people with records living in the neighborhood – but because someone had stood up for his own personal protection in the state of California but the honest truth of the event was going to be marred by his former conviction. This great line comes late in the story from one of the neighbors:

    “It could have been us, it could have been any of us,” neighbor Larry Haven said. “A lot of us on the street, we are armed and we watch the neighborhood really good.”

    That would also be true on my street – a decent group of guys who are watching… it takes a village to guard a neighborhood.

  15. I recall that there was one state (memory fails me which state) which had unrestricted possesion and carry without permit, except for convicted felons. They had to apply for a permit, and demonstrate that they were no longer a threat to society.
    That sounds fair — you are presumed to be honest and law-abiding until you are convicted of being otherwise. That does not mean you are marked for life. You can correct your mistake, get your life in order, and be judged by your actions after your release from prison.

  16. Given the recidivism rates for felons the answer has to be no to restoration of guns rights upon completion of sentence. You have paid your previous debt to society but you have not demonstrated that you will not go back to a life of crime. I might persuaded to allow a convicted felon the right to petition for restoration of his right to own a gun if he has gone straight for a period of time.

    It’s too bad that he will go to jail for a legitimate DGU but he new that he was prohibited from owning a firearm and he must the music. You pays your money and you take your chanc

    • He won’t go to jail for the shooting–that was presumptively lawful. He has only been charged with the illegal possession of a firearm

  17. Any felon who has served time for a violent crime should never, ever have gun rights, voting rights or the right to hurt anyone again. Ever. No exceptions. I’d just as soon see them rot in prison.

    • I dont know man. In lots of states there is “mutual combat”. Someone grabs you and attempts to kill you and you defend yourself you are also convicted of a violent crime. Think about it.

  18. Let’s say a man served time for punching another a bit too hard when he was 20. Not a murder, but enough to send you to a State prison instead of a County Jail. He is now 50, but he served time for a violent crime.

    Let’s now say a guy served time for possession of child pornography. Non-violent felony.

    My preference for gun rights restoration would go to the violent one, to be honest.

    • So someone looking at pictures on a screen is a bigger threat than someone who committed an act of aggressive violence against someone?

  19. If you can revoke a person’s rights because they broke a law, then no one has any rights, for all the state needs to do is make some part of their life illegal. Either rights are inalienable or they’re not, it’s just that cut and dry.

  20. If a felon did not commit a crime of violence I think a judge should be able to determine if he has 2A rights or not at sentencing, and a parole board should make the same determination based on a felon’s prison record.

    But my opinion matters little, as proven by the election results last week,

  21. I know of some that have a “violent felony” record just for kicking a drug dealer in the ass that wouldnt stop harrassing neihborhood families. That type of “violent felon” should not be branded a felon at all.

    Guns for all including felons.
    Execution for rapists, perverts, burglers and murderers.

  22. I am a felon. I served 3 years in prison for a crimethat was a pure accident. I plead guilty and additionally served 4 years of probation. after my release I never so much as jay walked. But I never hid the at that I was a felon. 3 weeks ago a man broke into my home to rob me. My wife and I were upstairs and my 6 year old daughter was in her room downstairs. My daughter heard the noise and went to go see what it was. The intruder grabed a kitchen knifeand stabbed my daughter twice killing her. By the timeI came down stairs he was attemting to flee. I tackled him and we fought. He stabbed me in my arm and chst and got away. When asked he stated that he targeted me because I was a felon and he knew I was law abiding and had no firearm. Had I been allowed to own a gun My baby would still be alive. It seems the common concensus here is that for one mistake a felon is no longer able to defend his/her life or their families life. So am I to understand that all of you beleive this? That for one mistake One forgoes thier right to protect their very life?Their families life? Is society as a whole so callus?

  23. I am a felon and have been out of trouble and stayed on the straight and narrow for over 15 years. I have gone to college and completely changed my life. I am now a paralegal. And contrary to what anyone says I have the right to and i will protect my family and home whether you like it or not. And I will proudly do my time for doing so. But we are getting away from the point of the article. Should a felon be allowed to carry a firearm outside his or her home or vehicle? Probably not. Inside the car and home and inside only? Absolutely !


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here