Saturday, February 09, 2008

NRA selling out gun rights of felons: Claims 70,000 Texans exiting prison each year are not "people"

Sometimes even "purists" advocate civil liberties for me but not for thee, and that's even more often true of the Second Amendment, the always controversial "right to bear arms."

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.

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."

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:
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.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eh, it's the wisdom of Solomon. If they insisted that felons should have guns, the left would look at them funny.

This is one of the first realistic stances the NRA has taken in some time. Is Chuck no longer in charge?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Realistic or not, if it means establishing a precedent, for example, that might lead a Roberts court to say felons are not "people" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, or even the Ninth (what's left of it), I think it's a bad idea to head down that road.

Anonymous said...

The ninth is probably my favorite. If Roberts tries to ay the ninth is limited, it'll apply to all of us.

Many "conservatives" have no idea what the ninth says, much less what it means.

W. W Woodward said...

At what point in our history was it decided that a felony conviction is an automatic life sentence?

When I first became a Texas peace officer in 1971, Theft over $50.00 was a felony, theft of a $0.69 package of bologna was a felony, possession of any measurable amount of marijuana was a felony. People arrested and convicted of these offenses back in 1971 are still serving their sentences.

A felon should never have the right to possess a firearm. Federal sentencing procedures add years to a conviction if the defendant is even in the same house with a firearm. The Heller amici briefs all say the same thing - a felon is no longer a part of "the people". The NRA isn't alone in this mind set. Read the rest of the briefs.

Folks convicted of a felony of any degree at any time in their past are grouped with children, mental incompetents, and drug addicts

Can you imagine being convicted of shoplifting a $0.69 package of bologna in the early 70s when you were 17 years old and then paying for the crime until you die of old age?

All these laws and restrictions are reasonable because the state says they are and the judicial arm of the state says so too.

How did we allow this to happen? And, how do we change it?

Anonymous said...

Most Americans do not understand the first step in the taking of their rights is the stripping another person of his rights. Once a precedence is set then all of us are about to have some of our rights taken away. Laws passed after 911 which were supposed to protect us are one of the best examples of the wholesale removal of rights for the American citizens. An American citizen can now be jailed without due process and access to a lawyer in an undisclosed location by our government. Also a little common sense might apply here to the gun issue. When have you seen any law prevent a hardened criminal from having a firearm? Instead of buying it he will steal it. Gun laws create property crimes and develop a black market for guns. I think we will see a ban on private gun ownership in the United States in the near future giving felons the same gun rights as everyone else.

rage said...

Can you imagine being convicted of shoplifting a $0.69 package of bologna

I wouldn't be caught dead with anything less than a salami myself.

rage said...

Most Americans do not understand the first step in the taking of their rights is the stripping another person of his rights.

In other words, "First they came for his bologna, and I said nothing..."

Anonymous said...

Look what happened when Germany passed gun laws in the 1930s. It was sold to the people as a way to make their life safer. An unarmed citizen of any country will fall to his knees to worship the god of government or else! My father had family in Europe when Hitler started his move to take over and they were never heard from again. Only the tyrants fear your personal ownership of a gun. The people who want to disarm you want to control you so they can take away what rights you have left. If you think I am some nut pick up a history book and do a little reading.

Anonymous said...

The Disarming of America-The Gun Control Conspiracy
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Except or until (WE) Government-SCOTUS-STATE-LEGISLATURE-UNITED NATIONS decide it's a good idea.
Felons are and have been a stepping stone to gun control and gun laws, both of which are an infringement on The Right To Keep and Bear Arms.
The propaganda machine continues using manipulated statistics. Banning guns lowers crime rates. Not anywhere that I've seen. When guns are banned crime rates increase, it's like a Blue Light Special for criminals, they don't have to worry about getting shot. A fist fight is one thing, a hole in the head is another.
The propaganda machine also continues to demonise felons to pass more gun laws, making purchases, storage, and transport more difficult for the law abiding. All this to supposedly keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Sadly, it seems someone forgot to tell the criminals. Gun laws equal more hoops for law abiding gun owners to jump through, too bad they have no affect on the people they were supposed to target.
The ultimate goal of gun control and gun laws are to disarm the public, Not to stop gun violence or to keep guns from criminals.
Don't agree with that? OK, here's a thought,Do locks stop criminals from breaking into houses? Sorry, they kick the door in or break a window. Locks and Laws are for honest people!
Shooters, Hunters, Sportsmen, and Felons are on the same side. Yup, sounds terrible doesn't it, doesn't look any better in print either. The government and gun control groups will continue infringing on the law abidings Right To Keep and Bear Arms until the law abiding gun owners are considered a fringe group and demonised as the felons have been. Do you really believe that gun laws and gun control pertains to criminals? If you do believe that I feel sorry for you. Criminals buy privately or steal them or have someone else buy for them. That being said, the laws and controls pertain to the law abiding.
Felons want their gun rights back for legitimate reasons, hunting, target practice, I guess you could call it sporting purposes.
Do you really believe that felons want their gun rights returned to them so they can go out and commit crimes? I can see the ad in the yellow pages already-Criminals: Gun rights restored cheap so you can avoid that pesky felon in possession charge when you go Robbing and Killing! Don't you think it's about time to get real, if you haven't figured it out it's coming down to everyone or no one, safety in numbers. It's a divide and conquer deal and they're succeding! Felons have lost their gun rights along time ago, now they've taken aim at Vets. Oh that's right they're going to put in place a way for Vets to get their gun rights back. And maybe our government will do to that program what they did to the other one, no money to do that sort of thing. Any idea how many felons are out of the gun rights fight? Ok, how about how many Vets are going to be out of the gun rights fight?
Gun registration leads to gun confiscation, gun confiscation leads to tyranny. Check out how Hitler did it, those folks didn't think it could happen to them either.
After registration the government knows who has what guns and where.
Even if I was legal to have guns I would not want the government to know what kind or how many guns I had.
First, I would expect the government or the states to do a voluntary gun buy back program or something similar.
Second, I would expect the confiscation of registered guns.
What about all the unregistered guns you say? I'm thinking after the voluntary buy back and the confiscation it would be a crime to be found in possession of a gun.
So, this question is for all of you shooters, hunters, and sportsmen, that think felons are the scum of the earth. Would you turn in your guns? or, Would you become a criminal?
Kind of puts things in a different light.

W. W Woodward said...

Anonymous 2/15 11:23

Take a look at the Jews for the Protection of Firearm Ownership amicus brief for the respondent [DC v. Heller] at:

http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/uncategorized/amicus-briefs-for-heller-available-in-guns-case/

I believe you will find their brief supports your argument in full.

take care,

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Anonymous said...

im a convicted felon and it sucks not being able to defend myself from psychotic human beings and other bull shit that life throws at me.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, we as felons have lost our right. Not really even knowing it. My story of how mine came about some 7 years ago is crazy.
But worst than that, they make it hard enough for the people that have "obeyed" the law to have guns now! We will never be returned our freedom to have a firearm until they can keep the freedom to the people that are supposed to have it now! I hope something will happen in the future so that i can protect my family at home. Its scary that the truth is, its easier for me to purchase a gun from the street than it would be to go to a store... Felon or not, this is what happens on a daily basis. When the right names are tied to properly owned guns, by people (felon or not), you will see a decrease in robberies and also less illegal gun sale. The gov. will never admit to that. Im a felon, and i still see peoples argument understandable when they shout "felons should never have guns", but the truth is~WE ARE PEOPLE. Stop treating us like were not. Try and even get a job with a felony. Thats hard enough as is, add every other stereotype of bad thing to a felon, and live with that. Take away your rights FOREVER! Take away your PRIDE FOREVER!

Anonymous said...

I guess you could call me a liberal, cause I have vote democratic almost in every election for the last 30 years, but even I as a bleeding heart liberal know that any law restricting someone's right to bear arms is unconstitutional. How could any Supreme Court uphold any state law that would restrict anyones gun ownership rights is beyond me. If you're an ex-felon hell bent on committing crimes, you're gonna steal a weapon - thats just common sense. And if you are a felon hell bent to take the straight and narrow, registering a weapon would be adequate in my opinion.

Bottom line - no state law restricting a persons right to own a firearm is legal under the Constitution of the United States, period !!! Whether a person is an ex-felon or not !!!