One out of two ain’t bad

Well, this makes sense–if we make it nearly impossible for felons to regain their right to vote, they’ll surely want to regain their right to fire weapons instead.


Author: Kelly Kleiman

Kelly Kleiman is a freelance writer on the arts, feminism, travel and social justice. Her reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor, among other dailies; in magazines, including In These Times and Dance; in the alternative press; on the BBC; and on Chicago Public Radio, where she’s one of the “Dueling Critics” and a contributor to the Onstage Backstage theater blog. She is also a consultant to charities and editor and publisher of The Nonprofiteer, a blog about charity, philanthropy and nonprofit management. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

14 thoughts on “One out of two ain’t bad”

  1. Let me get this straight: It’s an outrage to require somebody to produce ID to vote, but a lifetime bar to gun ownership for a barber in Georgia advertising his prices, (To give but one example of some of the stupid things that are “felonies”.) is just peachy?

    Perhaps we could compromise, and reform what counts as a felony, and THEN agree that felons should, barring extraordinary circumstances, lose both the right to vote, and the right to bear arms? I’ve got no beef with barring violent felons from owning guns, (Might avert some crimes of passion, even if it’s pointless if they decide to go back to their criminal careers.) but some awfully stupid things are felonies.

    1. Surely the problem is which felons are being allowed to regain the right to guns? The article cites a few cases of people who were clearly violent and/or mentally disturbed getting back that right. I don’t really understand why anyone would think that was a good idea.

    2. Brett, you seem not to have apprehended the point. You see the word “gun” and assume the main issue is one of liberals seeking to take away peoples’ gun rights – when the actual point is that for some reason ex-convicts are trusted with deadly force but not with the ballot.
      There are smoothly functioning, even lax, processes for restoring gun rights to ex-convicts, even violent ones, but regaining voting rights is much, much harder. In many Southern states, regaining voting rights is well-nigh impossible, a phenomenon whose origins have been exhaustively documented. And that’s actual ex-cons; as you may recall, Republican anti-“voter fraud” legislators have implemented policies that scrubbed eligible voters from the rolls, in some cases for having names that were similar to the names of convicts, even though their names were spelled differently, they lived in different places, and they had a complete separate legal existence.

      1. “You see the word “gun” and assume the main issue is one of liberals seeking to take away peoples’ gun rights – when the actual point is that for some reason ex-convicts are trusted with deadly force but not with the ballot.”

        While in others they’re trusted with the ballot, but not deadly force. I assume the main issue is one of liberals seeking to take away peoples’ gun rights, because liberals have been doing that my whole adult life. Which is why you had that pretense that there actually was a functioning federal mechanism for rights restoration; The status quo ante was that you lost 2nd amendment rights forever, and the author wanted to return to that status quo.

        Honestly, I do think the problem is more felony inflation, than the denial of rights, whether voting or 2nd amendment, to people who’ve demonstrated that they’re not really part of the community, but instead preying on it. But we can’t do much about felony inflation when half the political spectrum sees making everything a felony as a way to disenfranchise the other side’s voters, and the other half sees it as a way to take away the other side’s guns.

          1. My friend Butch owns an HK 91, which he testifies is a very nice pig hunting rifle. Only reason he could afford it, of course, is that he bought it before Bush the Elder banned it’s importation by executive order. Of course, I already knew it’s virtues; I’d saved up the money, and the order came down just as I was about to buy, which is why I spent it on a life NRA membership.

            OTOH, I own a very nice Calico carbine in 9mm, which is an excellent plinking gun. I’d love to suplement it with the .22 caliber version, the ammo’s easier on the wallet. Pity you can’t buy them anymore, as the ’94 ban killed the company…

            Pretty much every gun owner who’s not wet behind the ears has a tale like this to tell, but of course the real nightmare laws were the ones we did manage to stop, like Kennedy’s legislation to ban all large game hunting calibers of ammo. At the federal level, of course, in many states they didn’t stop the state and local laws, and are much more oppressed on that score than I’ve ever been.

            In short, don’t try to pretend that ‘liberals’ haven’t been foes of the 2nd amendment from way back.

          2. That’s a pretty fancy way of saying “despite legislation concerning certain weapons and certain calibers of ammunition, I have not lost a single gun right, ever.” I have the right to own a car, but I don’t have the right to own a Chevrolet Corvair or any other particular model.

          3. That’s a pretty fancy way of saying, “Since I don’t care about the 2nd amendment, I’m not going to admit infringements are infringements until you’re completely prohibited from owning anything at all.”

  2. That’s a fair question, which should be addressed to the state legislators who drafted those rules. While we’re taking things up with the state legislators who won’t set up a process for restoring those rights under any circumstances, too.

    But what the article leaves out is that the relevant authorities, under the former, federal process for restoration, were legally barred from spending any money to process applications. That is to say, there theoretically was a process for getting your rights restored, but nobody could actually use it.

    And given some of the lame things that are felonies in this country, coupled with the legal system abandoning any requirement for mens rea, that was a glaring injustice.

  3. There used to be a prohibition against bills of attainder, but the US venom against people who have been convicted of felonies and who have served their time, i.e. paid the price, is beyond belief outside the US. There are hundreds of laws that deprive released prisoners of civil rights. The Uniform Law Commission despaired of rationalizing the field because of the venom against these people. The ‘corruption of the blood’ theory seems alive and well in your country. In some civilized countries, people in jail are allowed to vote. At least some convictions may be relevant to a renewed right to bear arms. They are not relevant to whether one should be taxed without representation, or whether one should be allowed to care how one is governed.

    1. In Maine and in Vermont, convicts are allowed to vote while in prison. Everywhere else, people in prison are not only denied the right to vote, but are counted by the census as residents of the (often rural) prison, rather than as temporarily displaced permanent residents of their homes, effectively shifting legislative influence from urban to rural districts.
      I don’t know how many states refuse voting rights to ex-convicts. Wikipedia would appear to suggest it’s only Virginia and Kentucky now, at least as having an absolute and lifetime ban, but that doesn’t tally with my recollection – for whatever that’s worth. Restrictions on the voting rights of ex-convicts originated in (and, I think, remained at least largely confined to) the post-Reconstruction South, as a means to suppress voting by African-Americans and undesirable White folks.

    2. “The ‘corruption of the blood’ theory seems alive and well in your country.”

      Corruption of the blood, IIRC, refers to legal penalties for the descendants of criminals. I’m pretty sure I don’t know of any such in the US. In fact, isn’t it explicitly unconstitutional?

  4. And since it isn’t true that I don’t care about the 2nd Amendment, I’ll just let you talk to yourself.

Comments are closed.