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Tim Mak, in The Daily Beast, reports that a compromise may be brewing on criminal justice reform. A left-right coalition is starting to coalesce around a unique compromise idea: allow the restoration of both voting rights and the right to own firearms for non-violent ex-felons . . .

Perhaps the idea shouldn’t be that shocking.

“If someone asked me if I would rather vote for mayor or have a gun, I’d rather have a gun,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a signatory to the conservative Right on Crime criminal justice reform coalition….

Criminal-justice reform is a hot topic in Washington, D.C. this Congress, driven by the prospect of bipartisan collaboration in an era of divided government. Leading lawmakers in both Republican and Democratic camps have proposed legislation that would address police militarization, civil asset forfeiture, and mandatory minimum sentences.

Groups such as the Brennan Center and the ACLU have also been working on reenfranchising felons in some way….

It’s a long-shot idea, and in its embryonic stage. But tough-on-crime conservatives aren’t likely to budge on the restoration of voting rights to felons—who, they suspect, will not vote for their candidates if re-enfranchised—if they don’t get something in return.

“It is the obvious compromise,” Norquist said. “Many conservatives willing to restore voting rights would not be willing to suggest Second Amendment rights are second-class rights… In talking to conservatives, some are more or less excited about speeding up voting rights restoration. But all, when asked, agree voting rights should not precede gun rights.”

To get an idea of how many people we’re talking about here, a 2008 estimate puts the total number of people in the U.S. with a felony conviction at around 12 million people. Under federal law (18 U.S.C. sec. 922(g)), all of these individuals are currently barred from owning a firearm – in addition to anyone who has been convicted of a crime (not necessarily a felony) that is potentially punishable by more than one year in prison. I haven’t found any estimates on how many people fit into that category – if anyone has a good source, i’d love to hear it. It would save me a lot of FOIA requests.

Another estimate puts the number of people currently barred from voting in elections due to state law violations at 5.85 million people (the numbers are not identical because not every state bars voting by ex-felons).

Is it a good idea to restore the full panoply of rights – including voting rights and the right to keep and bear arms – to all ex-felons? I’m not averse in principle to a sliding scale of punishment, allowing an ex-con to be released into society with certain restrictions, giving him a chance to prove his rehabilitation. After all, if we have no qualms with the death penalty or life imprisonment, I’m not sure there is a constitutional objection to a permanently suspending a smaller number of rights as a punishment depending on the facts of the case.

At the same time, I can see an objection to the idea of a permanent suspension of rights for people released back into society and never giving them a way to restore those rights absent a pardon. I’m also not sure what goal these permanent suspensions of rights after release are supposed to accomplish. Does losing the legal rights to own a firearm and vote somehow add more of a deterrent effect than possibly being sent to prison for 20 years?

If a convict has served his time, paid his debt to society and is deemed fit to walk free again, it seems to me there ought to at least be a path to the full restoration of rights. As Mr. Mak points out in his article, right now, someone convicted of tax fraud, or “harvesting too many fish commercially”, or any other crime potentially punishable by more than one year in prison (even if the convict never served a day) permanently loses their rights to vote and keep and bear arms. That just seems a bit too much to swallow.

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  1. “I’m not averse in principle to a sliding scale of punishment, allowing an ex-con to be released into society with certain restrictions, giving him a chance to prove his rehabilitation.”

    Bingo. We don’t throw everyone in maximum security, and we don’t let everyone off with probation. One-size-fits-all punishment doesn’t make any sense. So it should be a sliding scale based on behavior, the offense, and all other applicable factors. But ultimately, when their parole is up, *all* rights must be restored.

    • I agree completely, for a plethora of reasons. A few:

      1.) It really feels like the right thing to do.
      2.)Criminals can get as many guns as they need anyhow.
      3.)Anyone dangerous should not be released.
      4.) FOR THE WIN– We can completely eliminate NICS, draw down the personnel in ATF, simplify our lives and decrease the size and cost of government!!!!!

      Voting, OTOH, well, felons are going to believe, overwhelmingly, in free stuff, that’s how you get to be a felon. So possibly they should be allowed only partial voting rights, maybe only allowed to vote for Republicans??

      • >> Voting, OTOH, well, felons are going to believe, overwhelmingly, in free stuff, that’s how you get to be a felon. So possibly they should be allowed only partial voting rights, maybe only allowed to vote for Republicans??

        What the fsck? You are not serious, are you?

      • My guess would be that most of them will not vote. Most people do not and also many felons do not have a sense of civic duty. I would ask like to see felons jury rights restored. The right to bear arms to me is a no brainier however, at the least inside the home

        • “My guess would be that most of them will not vote. ”

          I’d rather not take the chance. Criminals are like illegals – they vote ‘Rat / marxist.

      • so you agree for safety’s sake Obama should do what he took an oath to do and secure our hemorrhaging borders, stop FLYING Syrian terrorists into SECRET location in the heartland, stop selling guns to Mexican drug cartels, stop releasing Gitmo prisoners back into ranks, stop releasing felons by reducing sentences even when gun violence was part of the criminal history and record????

    • The definition of a free person for all of history is the right to KABA and also to vote. With both of those rights permanently removed, we have a sub-class of essentially what are peasants, peons and outright slaves, no longer treated as free human beings.

      This is no longer acceptable.

      Graduated, If need be a a probation after release from prison. But a life time sentence of being treated as a sub-human Is cruel and unusual punishment.

      • Well said. Even after somebody has paid their debt to society, even if they truly want to do better, they are still treated like second-class citizens no matter what they’ve done with their lives. And we wonder why our recidivism rate is one of the highest in the world….

        • Exactly. A felon has no incentive to become a “Law abiding citizen” .

          First, he’s not treated as a citizen, he’s being treated as a sub-human, looked at with contempt by the the law abiding and criminal alike.

          At least as a criminal, he gets fear ie “respect” from the common citizen and true respect from his fellow criminals.

          And ultimately, “respect” is what all humans want, even if the only “respect” that a person can get is based on fear, that’s better than contempt In their own minds.

        • There is a concept of “Paying your debt to Society” that doesn’t seem to be real. Perhaps it has always been just a cliché but it should be tangible. Otherwise we might as well strip their citizenship all together.

      • If we believe at all in rehabilitation (or for most, habilitation, since these folks were likely never habilitated in the first place), we should not make a felony something that is a lifetime sentence. For gods sake, most McDonald’s won’t hire felons anymore….

        Our ‘justice’ system is making crime worse… When will we learn?

    • Montana does so. Maybe model the law after Montana with a modification that all non-felony convicts will be granted automatic restoration of rights and all non-violent ex-felons should also be granted automatic restoration of rights and all violent ex-felons should be granted an automatic restoration of rights after sentence completion unless the state can prove every 5-10 years that a particular violent ex-felon still should be barred from owning guns. Failure to convene a trial within the timeframe and/or failure to prove the case and/or failure of the state’s legal consul to show up on the agreed upon time should result in the automatic restoration of rights.

    • I don’t see the need for everyone to flip out and argue in here. This isn’t going anywhere, I don’t care what these groups think they know. No dirty democrat is going to vote for a law that “gives guns to felons” and no Republican is going to vote for a law that gives the democrats a ton of easy votes. This I can guarantee, Dems and GOP will get together on this alright, get together to vote against it.

  2. Pretty sure that letting criminals vote would help the democrats quite a bit, aside from illegal immigrants, that would be their base.

    • Word. Felons are going to vote for Democrats, who are at the forefront of bankrupting our nation and destroying freedom. I’d say to restore gun rights, but not the vote. It’s time voting enjoyed some of the “reasonable restrictions” continually being cast upon the 2nd Amendment.

      • Think about what you’re saying, you want to deny someone their right to vote, just because they think differently than you? You are just as bad, if not worse than the worst of the gun grabbers. At least even they don’t want to take your voting rights away.

        You honestly disgust me. You are an amalgamation of everything that is keeping the second amendment movement back.

        • No one has said that they should be denied BECAUSE they might disagree with a certain political perspective. Rather that the restrictions that are currently in place are fine the way they are, and that these antisocial types who have broken their contract with civilized society are likely to side with organizations that support antisocial behaviors and legislate accordingly. Just as the democrats are trying to buy illegal immigrants votes by essentially removing any checks against people without ID or residence to participate in the electoral process, the same can be said about drug dealers, users, sexual deviants etc… they will support the party that supports them.

        • Vitsaus, that’s simply wrong. First of all, it’s just foolish to assume that felons are all drug dealers and murderers. Do you have any idea how many things in this country are felonies? Come one. Secondly, the question isn’t about automatic restoration of rights for everybody. It’s about having a path for people who truly are doing better (who have left all that behind) to get their rights back.

          I’m a little worried that you seem to think somebody should be judged for the rest of their lives based on breaking an (arbitrary) law. Murderers or rapists, yes. But there is a MASSIVE amount of space in between “never convicted of a crime” and “murderer/rapist”, including plenty of non-violent offenses, or violations of Malum Prohibitum laws, where their “crime” was completely victimless. To put it another way, everybody had done things in their life that they aren’t proud of (I’m not referring to crime, either, just conduct in general, and not big, life-altering things either), you and I included. Should either of us be judged exclusively on those, without taking into account the whole picture?

        • @Joe

          Hmm. I don’t feel bad at all. I’ve seen and dealt with violent felons. If you think I’m worse than them, your perspective is your own problem.

          As far as restricting voting rights, I vehemently support voter ID. If certain criminals lose their voting rights due to asinine mistakes than I won’t shed a tear. Good men have died securing our right to vote, and those who vote for Democrats are pissing on that sacrifice.

          Now should someone actually contribute to society in a meaningful way, to include understanding and defending the Constitution, than they have earned their voting rights. Hillary, Obama, and other criminals have long since seduced the “vote for free sh!t” crowd.

        • We should deny the vote to anyone whose ancestors were not citizens in 1800. Every group of immigrants since has worked to destroy our freedoms.

        • @int19h: There were free people of color in the early United States. Some of my ancestors…

          But yeah, I suspect it would be almost a completely white voter base. Even though I’m not so sure voting is a proper right, I wouldn’t think what was proposed is such a good idea. How about a return of sorts to only land owners voting?

        • Does mortgage count as ownership? If not, then your rule will effectively translate to “only the very rich and the very old can vote”.

          Any limitation on the right to vote is inherently tyrannical, because voting is the ultimate recourse of a citizen for when the sociopolitical system doesn’t treat him fairly. The more you restrict that, the fewer citizens you have, and the more subjects, and the citizens become interested in maintaining that state of affairs for the sake of the privileges that they get. If only landowners can vote, for example, you can be sure that 1) all laws that are passed will favor landowners (e.g. lower property taxes, higher sales taxes; more extensive trespassing laws etc), and 2) the laws that will extend the franchise will be fought against tooth and nail.

        • You won’t get much of an argument from me on voting, my BIOS friend. Voting rights/privileges are certainly not my strong point. I was just throwing the land owner thing out there as a tip of the hat to the past. 😀

      • So, you think the right to vote should be denied anyone who you think (and this opinion is based on nothing tangible, by the way) is going to vote Democrat? Change that last word to “Republican” and you’ve got something the worst of the statists would say. It’s disgusting.

        • While I despise the modern day Democratic Party, my issue is with restoration. As others have stated, the debt to society has not been paid. Also, there are way too many crimes that are felonies. We need to rollback our laws.

          As far as the legitimate Dirtbag is concerned,I am fine with them not having voting rights or gun rights. Maybe that isn’t politically correct, or a compassionate enough, but that’s the way I feel after having dealing with legitimate dirtbags. Especially sex offenders.

        • Check the stats, too many people are allowed representation, without taxation. It is easy to vote for freebies, when you have no skin in the game.

        • Red in Texas, I suspect you conveniently ignore the sales taxes when you count people “without taxation”. Even the poorest residents – including illegals – pay at least some tax through that; and only five states in the union don’t have sales tax.

    • When you take away the right to vote (and be elected) from felons, you give the state the ability to arbitrarily disenfranchise citizens with no recourse. Pretty much anything can be made into a felony, and once you have that label, you can’t even participate in the political process to scale it back. Voting rights shouldn’t only be restored, but all inmates should have them also. If there are so many criminals that it would make a difference, it indicates that the definition of “crime” is so broad as to be actively harmful. USA already has more people in prisons than any other country in the world, either per capita or in absolute number (yes, more than Russia, more than China, and more than Iran) – that’s what needs to be fixed. But rights restrictions? No. As soon as you start having them, it’s a slippery slope all the way down. Should felons they be denied freedom of speech, too? Freedom from warrantless search and arrest? Can the state take their property without just compensation? As soon as you make the first step, all these others are so much easier.

      RKBA is also easy. Are they a threat or not? If yes, they shouldn’t be free in the first place. If no, they have the same right to defend themselves as anyone else. The entire system of prescribed terms is what’s broken. A criminal should spend exactly as long behind bars as is needed to make him safe for society again (and what’s happening behind those bars needs to change too for that to work out, as it is more often than not the people who come out are more dangerous than they were when they came in…). For true sociopaths and psychopaths, this may well mean life, even if what they did was something more trivial, like assault. For some cases, it may well be less than a year.

      • “definition of “crime” is so broad as to be actively harmful” Dingdingding!!!!!!!! We have a winner. The criminalization of the American population is a very effective tool that the left has been using since the end of the Civil War. As has been said repeatedly, citizens are difficult to control, criminals are easy to control. Make more and more people “criminals” and you have a smaller and smaller group of “citizens” running everything, and eventually you can create a hereditary ruling class, something those on the political left have wanted ever since we kicked the King the f*ck out. They have tried many different schemes throughout America’s history, disenfranchising people and stripping them of their rights is proving the most effective, to date.

  3. Why does “non-violent” have any place in the discussion? Rehabilitated is rehabilitated. Besides, who hurt more people, the guy with a manslaughter charge from beating a guy to death in a street fight or say, Bernie Madoff?
    Still, it is a start, I guess.

    • Bernie Madoff is much less likely to commit a violent crime in the future than is the other guy. And we are talking about giving them legal access to a tool of violence.

      Of course a lot of other completely uncontrolled items can be tools of violence as well. And of course no such law would alone stop someone deciding to use a firearm (or anything else) from obtaining and using such to commit a crime. These considerations, plus principle are definitely on your side. But I think you could sell this with the restriction “non violent” attached, but not sell it otherwise. If I’m wrong about that, great!

      • There is the inherent problem with a “one-size fits all” policy. Consider the hypothetical person in the street fight that you described. He truly may not have broken any laws. People are railroaded all the time. Why shouldn’t they be able to vote after their bogus prison sentence?

      • @SteveinCo–Bernie Madoff is ten times worse than a man who can’t control his emotions and beats somebody to death, that is called a knuckle-dragger waiting for the evolutionary curve to catch up at whatever feet per second karma travels at. Madoff willingly stole peoples lives and showed more disdain for his fellow mankind than that of the manslayer. The white collar criminals can buy their way out of the judicial system, which is more of a threat to public safety than giving a knuckle-dragger access to buying legal guns again.

        Violent men can become non-violent if they so choose to be.
        Sometimes self-defense makes a man a violent felon if they were unlucky enough to get a statist liberal prosecutor or judge, or a conservative one for that matter.

        • {These} criminals can buy their way out of the judicial system, which is more of a threat to public safety than giving a knuckle-dragger access to buying legal guns again.

          This seemed perfectly descriptive of politicians when I read it. 😀

        • I am NOT disagreeing about the magnitude of the crimes.

          The point I was trying to make is that Madoff is unlikely to misuse the gun, so there’s no risk in restoring his gun rights. Joe Schmoe who held up a convenience store or shot up a fourplex because he was mad at someone inside has already demonstrated a high likelihood he’ll misuse weapons. A strong argument could be made (I don’t agree with it, but it’s a strong argument) that he should not be allowed to touch a gun ever again. Madoff will never misuse a gun. He had other ways to f*ck peopl, ways that f*cked more people than Joe Schmoe did, but they didn’t involve a gun. That’s why I maintain people would be more willing to give him his gun rights back than Joe Schmoe. Not because of the SIZE of the crime but because of its nature.

    • I believe there is a huge difference between violent and no -violent offenders. One class has proven in the past they have it wired in their brains that they, in some circumstance, to loose control of their urges, resulting in somebody being threatened, physically hurt, or worse. Responsibility for ones actions means you may loose certain rights as a result of your actions, so, for this discussion,I feel we need to differentiate between violent and non-violent offenders. “Debt to society” and “Rehabilitation” are not necessarily inclusive of each other. I rather feel it is “punishment for the crime” as in “offender will be punished/brought to justice”

  4. With our current system’s track record of releasing people who are by no means “ready” to return to productive life in society? No… actually hell no!

    The problem with out correction’s system is that they spend less time correcting bad behavior and more time turning petty criminals into hardened violent thugs.

    so again, barring major reformation, no

    • “The problem with out correction’s system is that they spend less time correcting bad behavior and more time turning petty criminals into hardened violent thugs.”

      That’s certainly true, but it’s also secondary to putting “petty criminals” into prison with the hardened criminals in the first place.

      We have a whole lot of “fiat felony” and “victimless crime” issues that underlie a lot of this “rights after release” dilemma. Our society is turning EVERYONE into a criminal, and then trying to come up with ways to “deal with” criminals.

      • Exactly. I only recently learned that it is a felony to possess an owl or eagle feather. I have spent countless hours in the woods throughout my entire life engaged in totally legal activities. When you spend countless hours in the woods, there is a decent chance that you might come across an owl or eagle feather. Who wouldn’t see such a feather and want to pick it up? But pick it up and get caught with it and BOOM! No more voting or firearms rights for the rest of your life. That is totally inappropriate in my opinion.

        • Whooo hoo ha hoooo. You would be a non-violent felon and should have your rights fully restored upon paying your fine/doing your time, IMHO.

        • I know a woman who is currently doing 10 years in Federal prison for possessing feathers. She never claimed they were eagle or any specific breed of bird, she just used them in handcrafts she sold at flea markets. Her and her family have had their lives destroyed, bankruptcy, home lost, her retirement lost. All for feathers.

    • Possibly knowing those rights would be restored would motivate more energetic evaluation and continued incarceration for those who remain dangerous. Sort of “which came first?” I also appreciate the idea of restoration after completing both sentence and parole, I think that means if you’re sentenced to 20 years and released after 2, it’ll be another 18 years until you get those rights back. If you keep your nose clean that long, I could give you a little slack.

    • But that’s a separate issue…. Also, has it occurred to you that maybe one of the reasons our recidivism rate is so high is precisely BECAUSE we treat people (who have ostensibly paid their debt to society) like second-class citizens?

    • A person with a felony has extremely limited prospects after prison. He must carry that with him to every job application from then on. Heck, my bad credit only stays on my record for 10 years, but some knucklehead kid gets a felony and it’s with him for life. Get in a fight and you’re outnumbered, even if you win the fight, it’s their word against yours that you started the fight, and badly beat the guy. FELONY. Now, because you wanted to settle it “like a man” you can look forward to not only being unable to have your firearms, but also not being able to leave the country, vote for the people who will raise your taxes, and many other rights that get taken on a whim.

    • @Roscoe- Prisons are called gladiator school for a reason and not because of the tax payer funded college courses. Prisoners are grouped up according to race and the prison gangs stock and trade is the predation of others. Plus, being a corrections officer and having state granted control is a slippery slope just like in police departments and politics, where sadistic personalities are drawn to positions of control, and abuse that authority over those intended to guard at great detriment to the integrity of the judicial system.

  5. Yes I think they should.

    They’ve paid their debt to society and it shouldn’t be some scarlet letter that followed them around forever, especially if they just made a mistake or a bad decision.

      • I’ll bet it’s more than that… I know a guy who knows a guy who got his bachelors on the state while doing time for a DUI manslaughter conviction.

        The state probably spent 15k a year just on college.

        • I’m not just making an excuse for the guy in jail, I don’t think they should be getting an education in prison.

      • Maybe I wasn’t clear. I meant a nonviolent crime, and someone who’s not getting out and going back to hurting people.

        I apologize.

        • I won’t even make that distinction. So long as they are taxable at any income level, they should be allowed to vote for their representation. Not all violent criminals go back to their prior life of crime. And some would like, just as much as you, to protect their family. In fact they may have a greater need to have a firearm to protect them from their former associates.

    • This paid their debt thing is a bunch of crap. Sure, they may have been taken off the streets for a while and maybe even paid some compensation but what about the victim? If they killed or maimed someone that person remains dead or crippled. If they ruined someone financially they are still ruined. For some crimes the debt is never fully paid because it can’t be.

      Now as to the question. At a minimum a period time must go when they are not under court supervision before they can apply to have their rights restored. Nothing should be automatic. For example, your non-violent felon may have gone to jail before he had a chance to commit violence. He may have been convicted of a lesser charge on a plea bargain that took a violent felony out of play. So there is no simple measure of whether a convicted felon is violence prone or not.

      • First off, if you don’t think being locked in a box for multiple years is paying a debt, then why bother with locking them up. My neighbor was locked up for a number of years for a violent act. He served his time, he did his probation, and he now has custody of his kid after winning the battle with his ex wife. He runs his own legitimate business, and owns his own home. Tell me why he shouldn’t be allowed to protect himself, and vote for the people who would take his tax money.

        • You are absolutely right. They’re people and for a lot of them, they try to clean their lives up and learn from their mistakes.

        • I guess you missed the point where I said that they can apply after a period of good behavior after court supervision ends.

      • >> For example, your non-violent felon may have gone to jail before he had a chance to commit violence. He may have been convicted of a lesser charge on a plea bargain that took a violent felony out of play. So there is no simple measure of whether a convicted felon is violence prone or not.

        For example, your law-abiding citizen may have not had a chance to commit violence just yet, or maybe he did but managed to conceal it from the justice system. So there’s no simple measure of whether any given citizen is violence-prone or not. Clearly we shouldn’t give people all those rights automatically, especially ones so dangerous as RKBA. They should earn them by behaving well, and have the state decide if and when they’re safe enough to enjoy those rights.

        • The same logic (that you are using) is applicable in both cases. There’s nothing that magically makes a felon different for those purposes. Especially since the classification of crimes as felonies is essentially arbitrary.

        • “Especially since the classification of crimes as felonies is essentially arbitrary.”

          That is certainly the case now, but it was not originally. Felonies were essentially defined by seriousness according to social values.

          Now, it’s the whim of politicians pandering to voters on pet causes.

      • I know one person serving time for killing the man who murdered his mother. Aside from that one crime, he was a good and honest person. Still is in fact. The guy was bragging that he got away with putting an uzi to the side of her gut and pulling the trigger. How much should he be paying as a debt for that?

        • Your friend should have used more critical thinking in resolving the evil situation that was forced upon him by some savage. I hope your friend has the intestinal fortitude to know that he did the right thing, except he forgot that those kind of situations have no expiration date.

  6. If an ex-convict is considered too dangerous to have a gun, then they are too dangerous to be out of prison. If they really are that bad, a silly piece of legislation is not going to stop them from doing whatever they want to do.

    • There are a lot of them that are released and become violent once again. That’s the problem: how to separate the bad from the good. I think there would have to be some evaluation period of at least a few years and then recommendations from others that know them to restore rights. I don’t think any non-life-term felons serve their full sentences. They serve only a portion before being released. I don’t have a problem with nonviolent felons having their gun rights restored upon release as long as they didn’t use a gun in commission of the crime. Sometimes gun/aggravated charges a plea bargained away and you end up with simple theft/assault. It’s a difficult issue.

    • Why not? If there’s that much of a risk that they’ll do it again, then they should be kept in prison via due process. More importantly, you’re talking about taking away someone’s rights based on what they MIGHT do, which you may recognize as the exact same logic the antis use to try to deprive YOU of your rights.

  7. Read the Book “Three Felonies A Day”. The modern legal system preys on regular people by criminalizing everything and anything.

    In this environment, a “felon” is nothing more than a person who offended the government, because the word doesn’t give any information about the nature of the offense.

    • +1

      When the Constitution was written, felonies were basically things that could get you the death penalty. If you got lucky after being convicted of one of these very serious crimes and were not executed, it made sense to take your rights away.

      Nowadays, “felony” roughly means anything that *could* get you a year or more in jail. It’s ludicrous.

  8. Is it a good idea to restore the full panoply of rights – including voting rights and the right to keep and bear arms – to all ex-felons?


    I’m not averse in principle to a sliding scale of punishment, allowing an ex-con to be released into society with certain restrictions, giving him a chance to prove his rehabilitation.

    If someone has proven to be so violent that they can no longer be trusted to exercise rights in a non-violent manner, then such person should remain incarcerated for life. Now, you can legitimately argue about where those boundaries are (first-degree murder versus involuntary manslaughter; forcible rape versus statutory rape, etc.), but as a matter of principle, violent felons should not be unleashed upon society, ever.

    After all, if we have no qualams with the death penalty or life imprisonment, I’m not sure there is a constitutional objection to a permanently suspending a smaller number of rights as a punishment depending on the facts of the case.

    Punishment served is punishment served. The right to keep and bear arms derives from the right of self-defense. If we let someone out of prison, why should that person forfeit the right of self-defense, simply because of a crime for which he has already served his punishment?

    If there is to be a sliding scale and an opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation, let it be on the decision to remain incarcerated. Otherwise, once someone rejoins society, that person should retain all rights attendant to a free man.

    • Chipper – Then would you agree the sex offender registry should be eliminated? Personally I do, but I don’t agree with giving felons their rights back upon release.

      • Chipper – Then would you agree the sex offender registry should be eliminated? Personally I do, but I don’t agree with giving felons their rights back upon release.

        Yes. Again, if someone is such a violent felon that they can’t be trusted, they shouldn’t be freed upon society.

        As for the sex offender registry: doesn’t that include anything from forcible rape to getting caught peeing on a fence within 500 feet of a school (i.e. indecent exposure)? No need for a registry. The forcible rapist should be kept behind bars (or castrated), and the flasher would probably be better-served getting psychological treatment.

        • That’s correct, a wide variety of things can get you on a sex offender registry. I know somebody who is on it for indecent exposure (he peed in an alley when he was drunk), and a woman who is on it for having consensual sex when her and her partner were teenagers.

        • But would not castration for violent rape (which I agree, btw) equate to not getting your gun back (pun intended)? Can’t have it both ways I guess

        • But would not castration for violent rape (which I agree, btw) equate to not getting your gun back (pun intended)? Can’t have it both ways I guess

          In the former case, firing blanks doesn’t cause you not to be able to defend your life; rather, it merely prevents you from being able to repeat the particular violent crime you committed before.

          Besides: there’s no such thing as “not getting your gun back” in the latter case. No law has, can, or will ever prevent a violent felon from obtaining a gun.

      • The registry is idiotic and of course should be eliminated.

        I do think felons should have their rights returned to them. Otherwise it sets a bad precedent. Suddenly getting arrested with silly crimes causes you to lose all your rights in the process.

    • Wrong, and dangerously so. The notion of “just keep them locked up if they’re a danger to society” is incredibly destructive to a free society, because it empowers the state to lock people up indefinitely, regardless of the actual punishment handed out at the end of the trial (or guilty plea). Once someone has served their time, they must be released (unless, of course, they have committed other crimes while in prison). Probationary periods allow society to monitor and place some restrictions on such people after their prison term is over, while not allowing the government the power to lock someone up forever without due process.

    • So do you oppose parole and probation? It sounds to me like you’re advocating either-in-or-out, which seems too black and white to me

      • So do you oppose parole and probation? It sounds to me like you’re advocating either-in-or-out, which seems too black and white to me

        Parole and probation for non-violent crimes? Sure.

        WRT violent felonies? Yes, I’m quite black-and-white. Murderers and rapists should stay behind bars. (I’m open to ideas of allowing such people – with appropriately high standards – to demonstrate rehabilitation, in order to be released.)

        And if some violent felons are thus paroled? Sure, some form of probation, for privileges, is certainly appropriate.

        For anyone not incarcerated, the right to life, therefore the right of self-defense, is either natural and unalienable, or it isn’t.

        And I have no idea how the right to vote applies in any way whatsoever, or why it should be denied to anyone post-incarceration. (That ex-felons might tend to vote Democrat is not persuasive.)

    • I’m not sure what nation you are living in, but mine has overcrowded jails. Criminals are routinely released and reoffend. CA is a mess. You can book someone for a felony charge and they’ll be “lucky” to serve a few months. We had a felony DUI where the driver killed 2 people. He served 2 1/2 years.

      • That prisons are being misused is a related, but separate, issue. The wrong people are being released. I’m pulling this number out of thin-air, but if memory serves, the average violent felon has something like 8 priors when convicted?

      • You make the point wonderfully! Jails and prisons are overcrowded because they are full of people WHO SHOULD NOT BE THERE. Violent criminals SHOULD BE THERE. Stop releasing violent scumbags so non-violent “criminals” can continue to be held. Simple as f*cking that.

      • My state (Washington) just made handing a gun back and forth too many times without contacting the government a felony. Your state (California) makes having the wrong parts on your guns felonies. The federal government makes having certain plants or chemicals around felonies.

        There are lots of ways to get yourself sent up for a felony charge and a lot of them have nothing to do with violence. As has been mentioned, our prisons are full because we put people away for all kinds of bullshit that we really shouldn’t. Leave prison exclusively for the truly violent and we’d have plenty of room.

  9. How popular will this be after the very first “rehabilitated” and restored rights felon uses a gun to kill someone? Recidivism is already a big problem. Personally, I don’t think you should be allowed to vote or own a gun until you “serve” your country and earn citizenship rights. That would put a damper on the uninformed liberal voters for sure. Service not necessarily be military, but at least 2 years straight out of high school or 4 years straight out of college.

    • How popular will this be after the very first “rehabilitated” and restored rights felon uses a gun to kill someone?

      How is that any different from the situation we have now, in which that same felon uses a gun to kill someone, regardless of restoration status of his rights?

      • Chipper – I think public opinion would be slightly different between a recidivistic felon obtaining a firearm illegally and then killing someone as we have it now and the same circumstance sanctioned by law. How many times do you have to come home and find your kid “playing” with the bb gun before you take it away permanently? Please don’t play the parent should lock it up card. We’re talking about public policy of GIVING the gun to the FELON. OPTICS, OPTICS, OPTICS.

        • How many times do you have to come home and find your kid “playing” with the bb gun before you take it away permanently?

          Again, that problem is solved by keeping said violent felon behind bars in the first place. Taking the BB gun away never actually works, and we both know it.

    • Recidivism is indeed a big problem, but the number of recidivists is relatively small compared to the prison population.

      We are back to the “90% of crime is committed by 2% of the population” problem. At issue in this question is that percentage, whatever it actually is, of the released “felons” that are NOT recidivists and are NOT violent criminals in the long term of their lives.

    • Holy Shit. Do you really think that our rights are given to us from the government (or nation), and we must serve that entity to be allowed these “privileges”?

      • No, obviously that’s not the case. From a purely philosophical standpoint, people have the right to keep and bear any and all arms, regardless of what the law says. However, in many cases, the law disagrees with that assessment. So, you can (and people frequently are) harshly punished by the legal system for exercising a right. This is about getting the system to recognize that right more than it currently does, so that the legal penalty for such a thing is removed.

  10. I dont see any problem with restoring the rights of non violent felons, providing they have paid their debt to society. The bigger issue is that so many law violations have become felonies and its time to reexamine what really should constitute a felony charge. For example in Florida a third conviction for prostitution is a felony. Dinesh D`Souza lost his right to vote and own a firearm over a alleged campaign finance law violation. Another example of one who should have his rights restored is Gordon Liddy. Even though he was convicted of a felony for his role in Watergate, Liddy has lived as a productive and honorable citizen.

    • In Florida, nonviolent felons can get their voting rights and gun rights back after a period of time and following a procedure. You will have to check the state for the minutia on the details. The Feds will recognize this for felons at the state level for states that do this. In theory the Feds can do it for federal violations as well, but in practice, it will not happen at for Federal violtions.

  11. First thought, NO.
    Second thought, after living a productive lawful life equal to two times the duration of the sentence regardless of time served and then only as directed by a judge reviewing your petition; preferably the same judge who presided over your case.
    Third thought, NO.

  12. Nonviolent offenders should have their rights restored (i) after they’ve served their sentence, (ii) after a reasonable period of probationary time (from nothing to a few years depending on the crime) and (iii) upon making full and complete restitution to the people they have harmed (if any). Violent felons can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Sure. Non-violent offenders won’t be a problem. Violent offenders break the law anyway. The world isn’t just butterflies and unicorns.

    • So, you’re saying, “once a violent offender, always a violent offender”, right? That if somebody did something once, they will always do that? Hell, if rehabilitation is totally impossible for violent offenders, why don’t we just execute them all? I really hope you see the sarcasm there….

      • When a violent offender ,ex-con if you will, is released and assimilates into society, causes no trouble and lives the life we should all strive for, then he will not be a violent offender any longer. If the violent offender, ex-con, disregards the law and violently offends again, what difference does it make where he gets his weapons? It is very apparent to me, but I’m happy to spell it out.

        • Think about what you are saying. You are talking about 20/20 hindsight that someone released ‘has not’ done something.

          The only way to know that he was released and never committed a violent crime again is after he’s dead. That’s a little late to be restoring his rights as a citizen of this nation.

  14. I worked in a state prison for a time. A lot of these felons got their start as young men making stupid mistakes. I have seen an 18 yo, more than once, do a prison term and get a felony conviction over nothing really more than a joyride.

    Not only does that person lose his rights to own a gun, but for the rest of his life he’s a convicted felon which bars him from a lot of jobs and education opportunities.

    A felon at 18 to 20 with no hope of a chance for a better future? What choice does he have then? Back to crime?

    Murder, rape and other violent crimes are a different matter.

    If our country was serious about crime and punishment we would take the youthful offender and make real efforts to turn his life around. Not just jail him and mark him for life.

    • I couldn’t agree more. More than anything else, our justice system should have the goal of rehabilitation. As a society, we should want to do everything we can to keep people from committing crimes. It’s sad to see how many people on here just want to take a vindictive approach, despite the evidence that such a thing has failed.

  15. If they committed a non violent felony which did not involve rape I have no issue with it. Get a shrink to sign off on you, community service, willing to submit to a drug test (if your crime was substance related) and your GTG 2A rights restored.

  16. You serve your time, you are off parole, you have paid any restitution owed – yes. Restore all rights.

    But let’s make sure this applies to the misdemeanor convictions for “spousal abuse”, if we are going to apply it to felony assault and battery.

    I would also like to point out that the current laws forbidding a felon from having a gun have never seemed to prevent repeat offenders from getting one for their next crime. Hey, criminals don’t obey laws – that may be why we call them “lawbreakers”.

  17. Believe it or not while Hillary Clinton was a Senator she supported restoring voting rights for felons. It does not take a rocket scientist figure out why. A large number of felons are minorities…. For whatever reason…

    The reality of the situation is minorities vote for Democrats in massive numbers. This would just be a shot in the Arm for Democrats. So no, no compromise here…

    I am certainly not opposed to restoring gun rights to non violent felons. The number of felonies has exploded in the last 50 years alone. But voting rights,no way. All it would do is give democrats a majority nationwide. And all that would do is allow them to take everyones gun rights away. .

    • “They shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they disagree with me.” That’s basically what you’re saying here. Step back a moment and think about how totalitarian that sounds.

      • 10 states restrict misdemeanor offenders’ voting rights, W to the F? I even border one of them, how didn’t I know this BS?

        • Only three restrict voting rights while out of jail, the other seven don’t allow voting while incarcerated.
          The reason you are unfamiliar with these laws is because the State doesn’t want you to know about them.
          I can pretty much guarantee that during the week you will commit some action that could be considered criminal and often a felony, and you never even know you committed such an action.
          The system is rigged to allow you to be arrested when you haven’t do anything a normal person would consider criminal.
          It hasn’t happened to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about it. I’ve seen it happen to friends.

        • Try anything even approaching smart mouth to a cop during a traffic stop, and he will real quick explain to you how easy it would be for him to arrest you and f— up your life. For nothing.

  18. Are ex-con’s not required to pay taxes? If they pay taxes, they should be given the same rights as any other citizen. Why does it come as a positive to tax without representation.

    • I think the opposite should be true, also. You don’t pay taxes, you don’t vote! Un (?) fortunately, that would require an amendment.

    • Non-citizens are required to pay taxes too, you know. I pay my federal income tax, payroll tax (while not being eligible for any benefits that it supposedly funds, ironically), property tax from the house that I own, and sales tax on anything that I buy. Are you saying that I should have a right to vote on that basis?

      Heck, even illegals pay sales taxes (in most states) …

      • Historically, voting in most states was based on ownership of property. I don’t think we need to go that far, but citizenship is a must. If you are on welfare, no. On welfare but want to vote in an election? Then get off welfare. Shouldn’t be an issue anyways, because I’m told time and time again that most people are only on welfare temporarily. So I’ve been told.

        • “Historically” here is basically for the first couple of decades after the founding.

          And don’t forget that historically, voting was also only for white males, too…

  19. Voting rights should be restored immediately upon release regardless of the crime they committed. Gun rights? I’m going to give a conditional yes, based on the crime they committed, whether or not they’re a repeat offender, things like that.

  20. Non-violent convicts? Yes. Once the sentence has been completed, according to America’s Criminal Justice system, they are just regular citizens again. That is how it is supposed to work, anyway.

    Violent convicts, those convicted for committing violent crimes and those who commit acts of violence against other convicts while in jail/prison? No. And they should not be in the street if they are still violent criminals at the end of their original sentence anyway. Those who willfully commit violence against others, for money or because of a head full of bad wiring or whatever reason, damned well should not be released. If they are unwilling to become a normal human being then keep their a$$ locked in a cement box.

    And stop locking people up over b*llsh*t, stop stealing their money over b*llsh*t and stop stealing their property over b*llsh*t. This country needs a massive overhaul of its laws, criminal codes and regulations. Period. Full stop.

  21. Easy answer, Yes.
    People in Prison who are ever going to get out should be able to vote in prison as well.
    The Second Amendment doesn’t state, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, unless that person has been convicted of a crime”
    If you can walk around freely, then you should be able to keep and bear arms freely.
    Rights may only be lawfully restricted when absolutely required. For example, people in prison shouldn’t have access to firearms, but by definition a free person has the right to keep and bear arms.

  22. Here’s the problem as I see it: most people in prison, NOT ALL, because I used the word “most” have drug and or mental illness problems. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a big problem allowing folks to be released from prison and get their gun rights back. How about forget it! Most of them have spent a lot of time digging themselves into a big hole. Let them dig themselves out of that big hole. If a person is a convicted felon, then they don’t get guns. However, there should be a due process available so people may petition the court to get convictions vacated. There should be procedures in place so that a person may get their possession rights back. It should be expensive and rather difficult, but fair, straight forward and attainable. This would almost insure that the wrong people do not legally gain the right to posses firearms.
    If Charles Manson was suddenly released from prison, would anyone want him to have a gun? If not, why?
    I would be fine with people that have been ON THE STREET, free from prison, not just off probation, but on the street without any new convictions for X amount of years, be it 5 years or 10 years, who have had all their convictions vacated and possession rights restored on ALL convictions, who after going to a shrink and taking an MMPI and with the shrinks fair and impartial opinion that the person is reasonably safe to be in possession of firearms, then the person could petition the court who SHALL restore them.
    I’m not in favor of impossible to succeed at procedures. If a person is eligible and they can’t or don’t put out the effort, that’s tough shit for them. If they want that right restored, they have to do it.

    • If Charles Manson was suddenly released from prison, would anyone want him to have a gun? If not, why?
      The whole point is people like Manson shouldn’t be getting out of prison.
      If he somehow got out, there is nothing preventing him from illegally obtaining a firearm, or legally getting gasoline. Dangerous items are always going to be available.

    • If Charles Manson was suddenly released from prison, would anyone want him to have a gun? If not, why?

      If Charles Manson were suddenly released from prison, no law would keep him from getting a gun, if he wanted one. The problem with laws is that criminals aren’t impeded by them.

      • @ Chip Bennett
        That wasn’t my question. Obviously nothing stops those who want a gun from getting one.
        I’m in Washington State where the stupid voters approved I-594 “to stop felons from getting guns”
        That’s a joke and we all know it. However, that’s NOT what I asked.
        I asked if Charles Manson got out of jail, would you want him to just legally go buy a gun, which you side stepped and redirected. How about answering my question this time!

        You see, there is a certain liability the state has when they restore someones gun rights. That’s not the entire issue, but part of it. The problem is that there is a reason MOST folks are in prison. There is a reason most of the homeless are homeless. It’s because they can’t or won’t conform to the norms of society.
        If someone can’t step through a set of attainable procedures to get their gun rights back, then they shouldn’t have them.
        It has NOTHING to do with black market availability. Absolutely NOT should they automatically restore gun rights. People lost that right upon conviction.

        • @ Chip Bennett
          That wasn’t my question. Obviously nothing stops those who want a gun from getting one.
          I’m in Washington State where the stupid voters approved I-594 “to stop felons from getting guns”
          That’s a joke and we all know it. However, that’s NOT what I asked.
          I asked if Charles Manson got out of jail, would you want him to just legally go buy a gun, which you side stepped and redirected. How about answering my question this time!

          I didn’t sidestep the question; I merely highlighted its irrelevance. No law will keep Charles Manson from getting a firearm if he wants one.

          On the other hand, an ineffective law intended to keep one Charles Manson from getting a firearm will effectively disarm untold numbers of other, non-violent, ex-felons, who, in attempting to abide by the law post-felony, would be left with no legal means to obtain a firearm.

          Thus, such a law is ineffective at its stated purpose, while wrongly infringing upon the rights of the law-abiding (even the nascent/rehabilitated law-abiding).

        • You see, there is a certain liability the state has when they restore someones gun rights.

          That’s not true. They haven’t any liability when they release prisoners due to overcrowding or on parole. The act of releasing a criminal would have tons more liability than merely not infringing upon that individual’s right to keep and bear arms. The state could even correctly claim that they were helpless and harmless in the face of constitutional restraint upon government. In all three cases the liability to the state is zilch, nada, nothing.

      • @ Chip

        No, you sidestepped the question and you flat refuse to answer it because you know you have to answer no. No you wouldn’t want Charles Manson, if he got released from prison to have guns. I understand why you refuse to answer it.
        While in theory your reason are noble and everyone should have the right of defense, but what you are sorely missing and apparently incapable of comprehending is how bad some inmates are at impulse control. As soon as they are free, they start using drugs and they descend into a cesspool of drug and crime until they are cycled back through the system.
        My ideas make it totally attainable for people to get their rights back. I have done legal research for lawyers who have cases getting people rights back. I’m all for it if a person is taking the steps, but NOT to hand them out automatically.
        If you think that should happen, you are truly a lost cause and not worthy of further responses from me.

        • Heh.. chill out.
          My question; What do you think would stop Manson from getting a gun if he got out, a law? Not having a right to a gun? “Charles Manson killed my mom with a spoon after being released from prison!” “At least it wasn’t a gun…” huh?
          Taking away someone’s rights induces impulse control? You can’t be a repeat offender if there wasn’t already a law to break and that obviously had no effect on them.
          To me, if rights can be given and taken then they aren’t really rights…
          The problem isn’t keeping guns away from bad people. The problem is that too many “good” people refuse to take responsibility.

        • While in theory your reason are noble and everyone should have the right of defense, but what you are sorely missing and apparently incapable of comprehending is how bad some inmates are at impulse control. As soon as they are free, they start using drugs and they descend into a cesspool of drug and crime until they are cycled back through the system.

          Again, the solution is to keep such people locked up. That is the only way to ensure that their lack of impulse control cannot be used to commit a violent crime – using a firearm or anything else.

          That is the *only* thing that will work. Laws and probation and paths to rights-restoration? Utterly meaningless with respect to the people they are intended to prohibit to possess firearms.

          No. I don’t want Charles Manson to possess a firearm. That’s why he must stay behind bars. Once he’s free, laws are impotent to stop him.

    • “Most of them have spent a lot of time digging themselves into a big hole. Let them dig themselves out of that big hole.”

      I think you answered that nicely…how do you ‘dig your way out’ of a hole you are in?

      The problem is that the system, as it is currently practiced, is a one-way ticket. The society they are released into after completing their sentence rejects them. There is very, very little hope of them finding their way out of that hole you mention.

      At the risk of sounding too ‘bleeding heart,’ this is one of the single biggest humanitarian failures of contemporary American Society. Our “justice” system robs people of their entire lives when telling them it is 3 years, or 5, or whatever.

      And, compounding THAT problem is the fiat felony concept that has gripped the imaginations of far too many present day lawmakers. EVERYTHING is a felony these days…or thereabouts.

      We want ex-cons to turn their lives around? They have to have both hope they can and the opportunity to do so. Condemning them to a life of ridicule and of being ostracized certainly isn’t working for squat.

  23. The first sentence of your last paragraph is an oxymoron:

    “If a convict has served his time, paid his debt to society and is deemed fit to walk free again, it seems to me there ought to at least be a path to the full restoration of rights.”

    If he/she is INDEED “deemed fit to walk free” then ALL of his/her FREEDOMS SHALL be restored!

    Instead he/she is deemed to walk only partially “free”.

  24. As long as the felon has served his/her time and fulfilled all parole obligations I have no qualms about them voting or possessing firearms. If you’re deemed by the state to no longer be a threat to society to the extent that you can be trusted to walk the streets a free man, you should be trusted with firearms. If the state is wrong they are powerless to stop you from attaining a firearm anyway, and all their efforts only succeed in inconveniencing law abiding citizens in their attempts to exercise the only right the Bill of Rights says ‘SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED’.

    And as far as voting is concerned, felons already vote. Just ask Sen. Al Franken.

  25. After a period of time yes depending on the crime. They need to prove that they just have not learned to be a better criminal. As to child pornography & molesters these are generally classed as non-violent in most states. 1 pistol on release to the childs family along with a full pardon. Sexual deviants cannot be rehabilitated hopefully have a special place in hell.
    If any of you have ever had dealings with them you know the feeling.

  26. A criminal is a criminal who can never repay his or her debt to society as their actions speak for themselves. Taking a gun away from someone who was convicted in Court is the least that society can do to ensure that only the right people have guns.

    • Taking a gun away from someone who was convicted in Court is the least that society can do to ensure that only the right people have guns.

      And the least society can do is, truly, the least society can do. Making felons “prohibited persons” has been perfectly ineffective at keeping firearms out of the hands of violent felons intent on using firearms to commit crime.

      Meanwhile, the guy who wrote some bad checks, or smoked a bit too much pot, has a lifetime denial of his right of self-defense.

      • My friend, perhaps that will instill a little incentive not to break the law. Laws make our society and people should either follow them or pay the price.

        • >> perhaps that will instill a little incentive not to break the law.

          It won’t. The issue of whether harsher penalties deter crime has been studied extensively for several centuries now, both experimentally (as e.g. in UK, where in the 17th century there was a steady ramping-up of penalties to the point where stealing a few pennies would get you hanged – it didn’t help), and studying individual cases. The seminal work on the topic is “On Crimes and Punishments” by Cesare Beccaria, written in 1764 (and also famous for containing the first known explicit written statement that “laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes”).

        • “My friend, perhaps that will instill a little incentive not to break the law. Laws make our society and people should either follow them or pay the price.”

          And there you show your complete lack of understanding of social theory.

          Laws don’t “make our society.” Societies are built on values, or put another way, “shared morals.” Laws merely serve to reflect those shared morals and provide means to punish offenders.

          No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “You can’t legislate morality.” It is quite literally true. It’s true because laws REFLECT morality, not dictate it.

          Or, um…did making marijuana illegal stop people from dealing, possessing or smoking it? Has making drunk driving illegal stopped people from doing it? Did making carrying a gun illegal in Chicago or NY stop people from doing it…and has making MURDER illegal stopped people from doing it?

          Your position on this is completely unsupportable. It’s a fantasy.

  27. My personal opinion for non-violent crimes (fraud of various types, financial crimes) or victimless crimes (drugs) – and no for violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery, burglary).

      • the definition of victim has to change.. otherwise its the same lunacy. If I buy a hooker, there is no victim.
        If I do drugs there is no victim, same goes for gambling.

        • What if the hooker is a victim of human trafficking? What about the people involved in providing the “junk?” You don’t really know what they perpetrated to get it to you.

        • You don’t really know what people did to get you the hamburger that you’ve ordered, either. But even if they did something bad, then THAT was illegal, not buying the hamburger.

      • So, if I smoke some pot, who exactly is that harming? Or, if I decide to bet on a horse race, again, who is that harming? Near as I can tell, the only person being effected by those actions is myself. Am I wrong in that?

        • Spend your food & rent or your families on the gambling, support organized crime. Grow the weed yourself or did you buy it? The drug cartels still exist as do human smugglers. Are you carrying a firearm stoned, does that interfer with judgement for driving or s DGU?

          Even if you live in a state where gambling is legal take a look at the crime/poverty stats. Weed still gets smuggled into the country & the Taliban regions still one of the largest opium export areas.
          Even if you think your the only one being hurt you aren’t. People steal to support addictions even state sponsored lotteries.

        • But the things you are describing, such as stealing to support your habit, are already crimes independent of WHY you were stealing.

          Suppose a person has $50 of disposable income per month, and he chooses to spend that on movie tickets. Fine, right? No crime. Now, suppose he chooses to spend that $50 on legally purchased alcohol. No crime.

          Now, suppose he spends it on marijuana? Why is THAT a crime…in and of itself? Who is the victim? It’s his money (he earned it in this model…he did not steal it) to spend on whatever he wishes.

          Suppose he smokes the weed in his own home and does not drive under the influence. Who is the victim?

          You statement is full of logical fallacy. One can be a wife beater or shirk family responsibility or drink and drive or steal from others without participating in the victimless crimes of gambling, prostitution or drug possession. Those activities don’t make other criminal or irresponsible behaviors more criminal or more irresponsible.

          And, likewise, one can participate in any of those activities without committing any other crime or breaching any responsibility.

          This is a key difference between Statist and Libertarian worldviews.

        • @Retired LEO: the only reason why the activities that you listed “support organized crime” is because, and to the extent, that they are illegal. Since they’re still desirable, there is a market, but because of legal issues, the only ones in that market are criminals, so any business dealing with that is “organized crime” by definition. But legalize it, and the market will be dominated by legal entities.

        • Legalizing it would drive down costs and result in organized crime losing millions if not billions of dollars.

      • Drugs, prostitution & gambling are not victimless crimes. Just more socially acceptable crimes.

        What is the malum in se aspect of gambling? As for drugs and prostitution: they only indirectly facilitate other malum in se crimes, such as sex trafficking and drug cartel violence.

  28. I recently finished reading “The Founders Second Amendment” by Stephen Halbrook. Most colonies and the states that ratified the Constitution had laws that allowed only “peaceable” citizens to keep and bear arms. Clearly, those convicted of violent crimes should be forever forbidden to buy, Cary or own arms.

    • Completely wrong. If they had such laws, and wanted that wording in the constitution, that wording would be there. It is not there, and from your account, that had to be intentional. Even if it is not intentional, somebody relating a story to you is not cause to change the meaning of a clearly written sentence. If you want it to read that way, the amendment process awaits you.

  29. How about part of that “path” is making restitution to their victims? They may have paid their debt to society, but what about their debt to those individuals that they have wronged?

    • In todays society, you dont actually wrong anyone.. you broke the law… the law takes precedence over any sort of personal harm you did to someone….Courts seek justice under the law.. your punishment has nothing to do with what you actually did to anyone.. thats old biblical eye for an eye stuff.

      The california driver plowing into all those cars during the chase is charged because he wronged the state… Not because he just screwed a bunch of innocent people out of low car insurance rates..

      • …thats old biblical eye for an eye stuff.

        Actually, most people misinterpret an eye for an eye. The purpose of that commandment was to limit the scope of retribution. In other words, the point wasn’t to say, “if someone takes your eye out, the appropriate retribution is to take his eye out”; rather, the point was to say, “if someone takes your eye out, you may take in retribution no more harm than was done to you.” The purpose was to prevent excessive retribution, such as taking a life in response to a minor offense.

  30. Wasnt it Just the other day there was a story about New York wanting to make resisting arrest an automatic felony?.. Seems to me that the stroke of a pen will either make you a “good guy” or a “badguy” not worthy of even the basic right to defend yourself, regardless of what got you locked up in the first place.

    ” Im a convicted felon because I was unable to touch my wrists together behind my back when they threw me to the ground and handcuffed me, so they called it resisting. I no longer have any rights because of it”

    ” I have no felony, because after I was arrested for violently beating the shit out of my neighbor with the butt of my 870, I took a plea deal for 4th degree assault, Thus making it a misdemeanor. I can now own my 870.

  31. Wow.This is really sad. So much cognitive dissonance here. I thought the POTG were better than this. Barring convicted felons from legally (to say nothing easily illegally) purchasing guns because of what they might do with them? Do you people realized that’s the exact same logic used by the antis to deprive you of your rights?

    And don’t give me that bullshit about “demonstrating already that you can’t be trusted to be responsible or make good decisions”. That’s the same damn thing; preventing somebody from legally exercising a right because of what they MIGHT do. Aren’t we always going on about how gun control is wrong because criminals will get their guns anyway, and the idea of barring somebody from exercising a right based on what might happen is wrong?

    Absolute lunacy. Based on some of the comments here, you’d think that gun control for convicts always works perfectly, at least according to some of your attitudes. Do you idiots even realize just how many things (including non-violent and victimless things) constitute felonies now a days? If you have a logical, well-reasoned argument (that doesn’t have massive cognitive dissonance) as to why there should not be a path for convicts to demonstrate rehabilitation and get their rights back, I’d love to hear it. If not, stay out of the discussion and lets the grown-ups talk.

    • Jake – Quite the eye opening argument. But I think that historical behavior has to play into it. The anti’s want to restrict our rights before we have done anything wrong. Here we are talking about restricting the rights of people who have already done something wrong. It’s the once a liar always a liar meme.

      • Bingo. Stolen money and cars can be returned. Mothers and daughters can’t be un–raped. Children can’t be un-molested. People can’t be un-killed or un-murdered. How are those debts paid? By $300,000 in taxpayer dollars?

        • And how they can be paid by restricting the perpetrator’s right to RKBA (or vote, or freedom of movement etc)?

          It’s a non sequitur.

  32. If we aren’t going to restore full rights to felons who have served their time, then we should stop paying lip service to the big lie “paying your debt to society.” I know a number of convicted felons and of the ones who might actually vote in an election, every last one is a conservative republican. One is even a convicted felon because he voted for George W. Bush in two different states in the same presidential election. The idea that they’ll all vote for democrats is too much of a generalization for me.

    • Plus, should support of rights be limited to instances where people will personally benefit?
      Whether or not restoration of voting rights means more votes for my positions, should not even enter into the equation. Rights cannot be restricted where not necessary.

  33. The non-violent offenses should have returned. No need to put back in jail for a firearm charge, this is nothing but an example of revolving door perpetuated by the law itself.

  34. I see several possible trade-offs here:

    – all felons are allowed to vote
    – all felons are allowed to exercise their 2A rights

    – all non-violent felons are allowed to vote
    – all non-felons are allowed to exercise their 2A rights

    – all felons are allowed to vote
    – all non-violent felons are allowed to exercise their 2A rights
    + National Reciprocity

    – all felons are allowed to vote
    – restore funding to the DoJ to process felons’ applications to restore their 2A rights
    + National Reciprocity

    The Democrats want all felons to vote for them; but, legislators from both parties are apt to be a bit squeamish about a blanket restoration of 2A rights. This is the kick-off point for negotiations. Is there another trade-off that will win a majority in each chamber and the President’s signature?

    Treating non-violent felons alike for voting and 2A seems logical; but, it lets white-coller criminals vote Republican. That’s not going to satisfy the Democrats who want blue-collar criminals to vote Democrat.

    Oh, by the way, why are we providing relief to criminals who have “done their time” while continuing to withhold a fundamental right from peaceable citizens in 20% of our States? There is something wrong with this inconsistency; something that would be cured by National Reciprocity.

    Legislators at the margin are apt to be tempted to trade National Reciprocity for Democrat votes. They can tell their constituents that National Reciprocity is inevitable. Hastening its acceptance in only 10 States is a worthwhile trade-off to do the right thing by increasing Democrat voter registration.

  35. this is a VERY grey area. so many laws need so much revamping. instinctively i want to say “no fellons should not get gun rights and should lose some rights” is that not the point of prison? to think that its for rehabilitation is a complete and utter JOKE. most criminals get thier criminal educations in jail so actually they come out WORSE. but then again, thats not all of them. to let a murderer out and upon his release he gets all rights back but a man who slapped his wife 20 yrs ago still can’t get a gun? that is flat out wrong. i do believe in some second chances on a case-by-case bases. you are never going to convince me that George Washington had in mind that a violent criminal should have ALL rights restored carte blanche, upon release. its pretty safe to say they only intended for the Constitution to apply to law abiding citizens. why should a violent criminal get the rights back when those are the same rights he imposed on of another human being?

  36. It just seems patently absurd that a person who has paid their debt to society is no longer allowed to defend themselves.
    What if they had a family and their family was attacked by an intruder in their home?
    Should that felon forever be barred from defending his family?
    With the loss of being able to protect his family, isn’t he family being put in jeopardy also now being punished forever?
    A father still has a duty to protect his family even if he has been a convicted felon.
    If a convicted felon uses a gun to protect his family and goes back to jail as consequence this just leads to a never-ending spiral.

  37. It seems that there are a lot of very positive views about these offenders. Perhaps you all could hire one to be your babysitter, or to rent the spare room in your house.

      • Sigh. The justice system is flawed. I trust a sex offender to babysit my son just as much as I trust Obama to run this country, the IRS not to target conservatives, the ATF not to run guns, the NSA not to spy on us, or for Democrats to not push gun control.

        • ….and that Sadam aided Al Kinda and there were weapons of mass destruction, don’t forget those 🙂 boy, this is as good as a family x-mass dinner after second round of drinks.

    • I do know several felons, involved in community service program and work with guys in halfway program after release from prison, and for the most part they are just moving on with their lives. Work for a man who did 15 years, he killed his daughter’s abusive husband after being attacked by said scumbag, got out and rebuilt his business and farm. And yes, not all of them should have their rights fully restored. Couple of them damned well should not be back in the street and will likely be back inside, one most likely before summer returns. The rest are felons because of paperwork, over bullsh*t or simply because they did not have a competent lawyer, and yes, they should have full restoration.

      You have dealt with real criminals, you know the difference.

    • Accur81. Those are a two different considerations.

      The first is does a person have the basic right of being treated as a human being, if they have served their punishment and shown they have given up being a human predator? Or are they to be treated as a sub-human, a life time sentence of being denied the basic respect given even to a common criminal?

      The other is would I hire a “felon” or rent to one?

      Well, just as I know many “law abiding” citizens I wouldn’t let within a mile of my home or my work place, I don’t base whether I would rent to someone or hire them based on being a “felon”.

      It would be based on whether the person can give good references; if the person gives me a “good vibe”. If the person had showed a good efforts to get his life straight.

      But just because they were a “felon”, doesn’t mean they are automatically to be assigned to the trash bin of society.

    • Perhaps you all could hire one to be your babysitter, or to rent the spare room in your house.


      Privileges can be lost, and regulated. Similarly, societal opprobrium may only be overcome at great personal cost. These things are not rights, and none of them has anything to do with the natural, unalienable right to life and self-defense, and taxation without representation.

    • There is a big difference here in violent vs nonviolent felons. Furthermore, I would let a crack head babysit whether they had a prior conviction for it or not.

  38. Quick general response: The rapist, child molester, murderer, and killer have marked their victims for life. I have no issue with gun rights and voting rights for the criminal being marked for life. That’s a natural consequence of committing the crime. Those crimes don’t get “paid back.”

    As to the weak, nonexistent, non-violent, or drug possession felonies, I don’t have an issue with rights being restored provided some demonstrable path towards a responsible life has been taken.

    (And I still despise the Demcratic party in their efforts to enact gun control, wipe away our borders, celebrate illegal immigration, and recruit illegitimate voters.)

    I’m going to have to just forgive some of you think that our justice system actually works properly. It doesn’t. I had many years of experience with it. It is a failure in many respects. Those who think that criminals are in jail and not roaming the streets probably just don’t have that much experience with the streets.

    • But of all felons, the ones you describe, rapists, murderers, child molesters, are probably in single digits.

      The vast najority, over 60%; are drug relared, either selling or the buying of illegal drugs.

      victimless crimes. To punish these for a life time for engaging in unregulated commerce created by government trying to regulate what should be left to personal choice is just plain wrong.

  39. Absolutely. Even violent offenders. Hell even sex offenders. The caveat with those that ex-offenders must be proven to no longer be a threat to society in general. Which is something that we SHOULD be doing as is.

  40. I don’t equate punishment with prison. So I see no reason, if the punishment fits the crime, to assert, what is really the logical fallacy of begging the question, that they have “paid their dues”

    In my mind, certain criminals (murders, serial rapists, etc) should generally be executed (pend some reform of the judicial system). Those who have committed violent crimes should have a period of probation following any imprisonment/parole. The length and conditions of which would fit their case, but should in no case exceed 10 years. Restrictions from probation may be voting, passport privileges, and restriction on the type of arms you may have or carry. In anycase, I would allow someone in this case the ability to appeal for an early exception for special reason

    Certain other offenses, that are not violent felonies, but do endanger public safety I can also see including a term of restriction of certain rights (perfectly legal. cf. 14th amendment about crimes) pertinent to the offense. So take someone, Bob, who has either committed an action that seriously threatens public safety in the carrying of a firearm, or maybe has committed unsafe actions in public on multiple occasions. I see no issue confiscating that gun (it is gone, no longer yours), fining him and, especially if a repeat offender banning him from carrying guns for some term of time or even ordering him to take safety classes in that time (the way a recidivist public drunk might be ordered to attend help meetings)

    Then the punishment is fitting the crime. Your negligent actions with firearms endangered others and hence you are being punished in that respect.

    • >> In my mind, certain criminals (murders, serial rapists, etc) should generally be executed (pend some reform of the judicial system).

      Since the restoration of death penalty in 1970s, there have been over a hundred people whose death penalty conviction has been found to be in error, either due to procedural errors or due to new evidence (DNA, new witnesses etc). In quite a few cases, this has been posthumous. If they were serving a life sentence instead, we could release them, but it’s rather hard to reanimate a corpse.

      Death penalty doesn’t pass the “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” test. It’s exactly why Judaism has all but forgone it in practice, despite the large number of capital crimes in the Torah.

      • Hence my “pending judicial reform” comment.

        And I really don’t care about what either modern rabbinical Judaism, nor the secular state of Israel, or England or what have you reasons on the matter. As long as guilt is morally certain, then they can justly be executed. If not morally certain, than no.

        And I deny your “100 people have been proven innocent” A few have. And a few have been shown to have been denied due process, or their cases had insufficient evidence for the standard of reasonable doubt. That is not the same thing as proven innocent, though it is a problem that must be corrected.

        Of course moral certitude and absolute certitude differ, and it is not possible to demand the latter.

        • I would argue for something as definitively irreversible and final as death penalty, the absolute certitude should be the standard. You are taking a man’s life – it doesn’t get any more serious than that. If there’s even a slightest shred of doubt or possibility of being wrong, it has to be assumed.

  41. Also note that it is incredibly wrong to equate “not safe” with “should be in prison”

    Punishment must fit the crime. Just because the person may pose future criminal threat doesn’t mean he can be punished preemptively. It doesn’t work that way

  42. Ah. Good old Grover. The greatest champion among the pseudo-Right of the campaign to increase the risk that Americans get shot by terrorists.

    Perhaps the convicts can protect everyone from the ‘homegrown terrorists’ who are just good ol boys from Minnesota ne. Somalia?

  43. Not a lot to add…Yep read 3 felonies a day. Or get the gist. Non-violent felons should get a second chance. But I have 2 close relatives who are convicted felons. One is my SON who wandered into a house in a non-violent psycho daze. Should have gone to a mental facility(that’s another issue ) but instead went to jail. Screwed. And my (black) brother-in-law unjustly convicted of a terrible crime because the PO-leece needed a scapegoat. No I don’t have a lot of confidence in the legal system…

  44. Not in actual, lawful custody then their rights ought not be infringed. Anything less is, IMHO, hypocritical and only giving lip service to the concept of protected rights.

    If parole and probation can be refused by the convicted then I could see specific encroachment by agreement for a specific amount of time. However, in places like Ohio, one cannot refuse probation (not sure about parole). The only way for an Ohio probationer is to violate probation and hope they get sent back without too much time added on. Sometimes it takes multiple violations before the courts will send them back.

    Before someone throws a list at me… Yes; child molesters, rapists, murderers, etc.

  45. You’re asking the wrong question. never frame such an issue as “should people be allowed to….”

    The proper question is “should government be able to deny a right to someone after they have completed their sentence.” Does that violate due process by continuing to impose a sentence after the sentence is supposedly over?

    Always phrase such issues in terms of government power. I know people like to phrase it as violent felons being allowed to own weapons because it makes their preferred answer seem obvious, but if your preferred answer needs a certain phrasing to seem correct, then there is a problem.

    If one is reluctant to put their answer up against other ways to frame an issue, then perhaps that is not a good answer.

    To me, limiting government authority outweighs felons being allowed, so it’s still an obvious answer…to me.

  46. Couldn’t help but notice that few of the constitutional law scholars who frequent this forum (John from Ohio excepted) have offered their standard Kings X simple argument to support the right of felons to possess and carry firearms. Appling their strict literal unquestionable unwavering interpretation of the 2nd amendment to make the same black and white, open and shut case that refuses to acknowledge or accept the authority of government to regulate or restrict the possession or carrying of firearms; “THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”. Applying that same obstinate if shallow interpretation, nothing in the 2nd amendment restricts that constitutional right of felons to keep and bear arms.

  47. They have to live in the same society we do; with all its dangers and threats.
    Would you deny an ex-con a fire extinguisher, a spare tire, health insurance, seatbelts and airbags?

  48. Violent felons should have a probationary period after release with an application process after completion of sentence. If they were early released then its after the full sentence would have been served otherwise before they can start probation and application for the return of their rights.

    Nonviolent felons such as tax evasion, fishing violations, check fraud should have rights restored immediately upon sentence completion.

    We need to define violent vs nonviolent.

  49. I wonder how many of the predictable constitutional law scholar regulars are aware that under Texas law, convicted felons can possess a firearm (at their residence only, nowhere else) 5 years after release from probation or parole.

    I suspect that there are other States with a similar provision in their firearm laws.

  50. If you have done your time, yes, you should get your rights back. *All* of them.

    I don’t have a problem with criminals being able to buy a gun. Criminals will find a way to get guns, period. Might as well let them buy some of their guns from a gun shop and pay sales taxes on some of them.

  51. I don’t see why someone having committed a nonviolent crime would indicate they’d have any more violent potential than anyone else.

  52. Until 1900 a prisoner who was released was given a horse, $20 in silver and a pistol. These were deemed essential to his survival having paid his debt.


  53. Felons can already vote, depending on the State they live in. It’s a states right issue and up to individual states to decide this.

    California as a example, allows excons to vote.

    • It is not a “states rights” issue when it’s about voting in the federal elections. And even for the state ones, the states cannot arbitrarily restrict the right to vote (otherwise they could just unilaterally declare themselves absolute monarchies, for example).


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