Per Eugene Volokh, the North Carolina Supreme Court finds that a lifetime ban on firearms possession by those convicted of non-violent felonies violates the North Carolina Constitution. Putting aside for the moment the questions of (1) whether the analysis is right (though as a non-expert I find the reasoning in the dissent persuasive) and (2) whether the result is good public policy, I’d like to ask a straightforward legal question: even if North Carolina law permits the plaintiff in this case to have a gun, wouldn’t he be in violation of the Federal felon-in-possession statute if he got one? And wasn’t he in violation of that statute during the years when he had a gun, before the North Carolina law just struck down was passed in 2004? The court cites his “years of law-abiding conduct” as evidence of his fitness to have a weapon. Can a course of conduct that constitutes a felony under Federal law properly be called “law-abiding”?
Special footnote for gun-totin’ opponents of “judicial activism” I’m waiting to hear your screams of outrage about “legislating from the bench.”
Extra-special footnote for libertarians If it’s unconstitutional to make a felony conviction a lifetime bar to gun ownership, how about making it a lifetime bar to voting?