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We have no way of knowing for sure, but you have to figure that editors at the New York Times probably make good use of their Outlook reminder function. It just seems they must have set up perpetual reminders at pre-determined intervals to make sure they run stories covering certain societal issues. They just never seem to go very long without running articles on a specific set of topics that are near and dear to the the NYT brass’s bleeding hearts. You know, subjects such as the settled science that is global warming. The manifest effectiveness of government spending in allocating capital and “creating” jobs. The obvious necessity for the nation’s healthcare delivery functions to be guided by the benevolent hands of federal bureaucrats. And then, of course, there’s the growing danger posed by the expansion of gun rights…

The Gray Lady’s most recent efforts yesterday to validate the world view of the majority of its ever-shrinking readership focuses on the ease with which some convicted felons can regain their gun-owning privileges once they’ve paid their debt to society. The Times’ Michael Luo has conducted an “examination” of various states’ laws that were enacted after the 1986 Federal Firearms Owners Protection Act allowed states to control if and how convicted felons can regain their second amendment rights.

While many states continue to make it very difficult for felons to get their gun rights back — and federal felons are out of luck without a presidential pardon — many other jurisdictions are far more lenient, The Times found. In some, restoration is automatic for nonviolent felons as soon as they complete their sentences. In others, the decision is left up to judges, but the standards are generally vague, the process often perfunctory. In some states, even violent felons face a relatively low bar, with no waiting period before they can apply.

Prior to ’86, the feds governed the prohibition of felons regaining gun rights under the Gun Control act of 1968, a knee-jerk legislative reaction to the MLK and RFK assassinations. Which was exactly how the Times and gun control fans liked it. After all, if it’s a law and was signed by LBJ in the ’60s, what’s not to like?

The problem, as the Times sees it, is now that the the collective wisdom of the federal government is no longer in control, the process for rights restoration varies widely from state to state.

Today, in at least 11 states, including Kansas, Ohio, Minnesota and Rhode Island, restoration of firearms rights is automatic, without any review at all, for many nonviolent felons, usually once they finish their sentences, or after a certain amount of time crime-free. Even violent felons may petition to have their firearms rights restored in states like Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia. Some states, including Georgia and Nebraska, award scores of pardons every year that specifically confer gun privileges.

Naturally, to prove just what a travesty allowing individual states to determine who can regain their constitutional rights is, Luo highlights particularly egregious examples of convicted felons who subsequently committed crimes after legally reestablishing their gun rights.

Who’s the real bogeyman in all of this, though? You get three guesses – and if it takes you more than one you might lose your Armed Intelligentsia secret ninja decoder ring. That’s right, the Times blames the NRA. Although the Second Amendment foundation gets an honorable mention, too.

When Senator David F. Durenberger, a Minnesota Republican, realized after the (1986) law passed that thousands of felons, including those convicted of violent crimes, in his state would suddenly be getting their gun rights back, he sought the N.R.A.’s help in rolling back the provision. Doug Kelley, his chief of staff at the time, thought the group would “surely want to close this loophole.”

But the senator, Mr. Kelley recalled, “ran into a stone wall,” as the N.R.A. threatened to pull its support for him if he did not drop the matter, which he eventually did.

“The N.R.A. slammed the door on us,” Mr. Kelley said. “That absolutely baffled me.”

Evidently, making sure Durenberger actually read the laws he voted for wasn’t on Mr. Kelley’s agenda when he was working for the Senator.

To drive his point home, Luo even cites studies by real live academics to make the case that the current state of affairs – even allowing nonviolent felon to regain their guns – is outrageously wrongheaded:

One study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 1999, found that denying handgun purchases to felons cut their risk of committing new gun or violent crimes by 20 to 30 percent. A year earlier, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that handgun purchasers with at least one prior misdemeanor — not even a felony — were more than seven times as likely as those with no criminal history to be charged with new offenses over a 15-year period.

Criminologists studying recidivism have found that felons usually have to stay out of trouble for about a decade before their risk of committing a crime equals that of people with no records. According to Alfred Blumstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, for violent offenders, that period is 11 to 15 years; for drug offenders, 10 to 14 years; and for those who have committed property crimes, 8 to 11 years. An important caveat: Professor Blumstein did not look at what happens when felons are given guns.

The funny thing is, Luo can’t seem to find a single person – no academics, libertarians, wild-eyed gun rights advocates – who’s in favor of the current distribution of responsibilities. At least, he doesn’t quote anyone in the article.

Is the process for felons reacquiring their second amendment rights too lenient in some states? Maybe. But if it is, there’s a simple solution that the the voters in those states can demand: change the laws. If their legislators won’t do that they have the option of electing different representatives who will.

Of course, the processes in place those states may very well reflect exactly what the majority of voters who live there want. It could just be possible that the people in those benighted eleven states believe that, once a criminal has served his sentence and paid his debt to society, he has just as much right to protect himself and his family as anyone else does. But that idea seems to be so drastically counterintuitive to our betters at the Times that we’re not likely to see it represented in an exhaustive “examination” such as this. Or maybe it’s just not fit to print.

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  1. Some of us aren’t old enough to know there’s someone else famous with the initials “LBJ”…

    Gun grabbers quote these trends that only they are connecting the dots to because the world is blind. I need to thank the New York Times for showing me what’s truly important. /sarcasm

  2. Where do I begin? In Rhode Island, which Luo lists as on of the “easy” states, nothing is automatic except restoration of voting rights. Violent felons cannot have their records expunged — ever. Nonviolent felons are eligible for expungement after serving their sentence (including parole or probation) and a record of being good boys and girls for ten years thereafter. For misdemeanants, the after-period is five years. Once expunged, their criminal record cannot be used against them, but that doesn’t mean that they’re getting guns. As every law-abiding Rhode Islander without a criminal recod will state, getting a CCW permit in the Ocean State is a nightmare.

    If the rest of Luo’s story contains the same amount of bullsh!t, it’s no wonder that he writes for the Times. He’s a Luolife.

  3. Oh, wow. Another anti-gun editorial from the Times. In other news: water is wet and politicians lie.

    • Comments on the quality of either work aside, I’m pretty sure the NYT has not one-tenth of one percent of the culture-shaping potential that Harry Potter has.

      • I was thinking that the NYT has more magical thinking than that which is contained in the HP series.

    • Sorry, but no. Harry Potter is imaginative, well written, teaches important lessons such as the value of freedom and thinking for yourself, and doesn’t claim to be factual. The NYT is the same tired tripe over and over again being sold as “fact” while blatantly ignoring facts.

    • Actually, the potter books aren’t all *that* bad from a literary perspective; they’re certainly around the same level of literary quality that books written 50 years ago of a similar theme targeted at the same audience.

      That, and the message within the books is one I’m sure we can agree on — I mean it’s got everything; good things only come from hard work, the need to always fight evil, and the fact that all governments are incompetent, and that’s just barely scratching the surface.

      It’s certainly much better than trash like twilight, which all boils down to vanity, and all the worst aspects of female adolescent angst.

  4. The Times article does have a few valid points that should not be overlooked. Some of those criminals that the article mentioned should never have had their gun rights restored. I still find it funny that they blame the NRA for everything and make the FOPA seem like a pro-murder law. States do need to fix this issue, but leave the federal gov out of it.

  5. If you commit and are convicted of a violent crime you should lose your Second Amendment rights period. Do we want to treat guns just like driving where it usually takes killing someone with your car to end your driving privileges.

    • “…shall not be infringed” keeps ringing in my ears.

      If someone commits a crime so heinous and proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, should not be left alive to re-offend.

      Everyone deserves to be able to defend their lives with deadly force.

      Besides, how are you going to know that they do not have a gun in their possession short of a home raid or random pat downs?

    • Period? No. Without one hell of a good argument and a governor’s pardon? Yes.

      The funny thing from the article was this ” In some, restoration is automatic for nonviolent felons as soon as they complete their sentences. ” So what? It was a NONVIOLENT crime – why should they be treated like a violent psychopath when they did not in fact commit any violence?

      • Do those convicted of a violent crime have the right to defend themselves? Well, perhaps they should have considered another line of work before choosing to do violence to their fellow citizens. Afterwards, if he wants to run the risk of self-defense with a weapon he cannot legally possess then he will pay the consequences if caught. So better to be judged by 12 than carried by six.

        I do not want gun ownership to be like a drivers license where people get to be arrested and convicted for DUI time and time again with no loss of the privilege to drive until they kill someone will driving drunk. Crime, be it drunk driving or armed robbery, should have consequences and one the consequences of violent criminal behavior is the loss of your right to defend yourself with a gun.

        • Did you not read where I said “one hell of an argument to get a governor’s pardon”? There are “crimes” what it’s some BS technicality and in those cases a governor would approve a pardon. Otherwise, they wouldn’t.

          So do you think speeders should lose gun and voting rights too? That’s a crime too you know.

  6. The NY SLIMES is one of the most useless so called newspapers in the world, and the only thing it’s good for is potty training little puppies.

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