The NRA calls itself "the oldest civil rights organization in America," but Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy calls a spade a spade in assessing the purity of the National Rifle Association's Second Amendment stance when it comes to felons: They're "sell outs." He writes:
Though perhaps other supporters of gun rights do not sell out felons, I was especially interested to see that the National Rifle Association's brief, which describes the NRA as "America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights" readily concedes that "laws barring [any gun] ownership by convicted felons" would pass its proposed Second Amendment test.Though I've worked with the NRA in Texas on other gun rights issues, I disagree strongly with their stance here: If you're going to insist that the Second Amendment applies to individuals (and not just as part of a "militia"), it's hypocritical to pick and choose to whom the state extends a particular constitutional right. In an earlier post on the subject, Berman reasoned:
As I have highlighted in prior posts, there are lots and lots of folks with felony convictions — such as Martha Stewart and Lewis Libby — who might want and need to have a gun for self-protection. Nevertheless, while the NRA claims to be the foremost defender of the "human, civil, and constitutional rights of the individual to keep and bear arms in a free society," the NRA is still content (and even seems eager) to concede that once convicted of any kind of felony, any and every person loses forever these "human, civil, and constitutional rights."
Notably, the Bill of Rights uses the phrase "the people" in four other Amendments (the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth). I have never before heard a claim that all convicted felons are categorically denied the individual rights protected by all these Amendments.In Texas, 70,000 felons leave state prisons every year. Most, if you asked them, would consider themselves "people," as would an objective observer. But apparently they're not "the people," at least as the NRA defines them under the Second Amendment. Berman's right to call "BS."
If gun rights advocates want to claim "the people" retain the "right to bear arms," those rights cannot be reserved to different "people" than those to whom the document elsewhere refers.