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Forget Ballots. Should Ex-Cons Get Guns?
The New Republic ^ | 17 January, 2012 | Timothy Noah

Posted on 01/18/2012 5:47:31 AM PST by marktwain

At last night's Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., we heard the candidates talk about whether ex-cons should vote and we heard the candidates talk about the right to bear arms. At the next debate, I'd like to hear the candidates talk about whether ex-cons should bear arms.

Asked about Mitt Romney's attacks on his candidacy, Rick Santorum complained that Romney's Super PAC had an ad that said he favored allowing felons to vote from prison, when in fact what Santorum favored was allowing felons to vote after they've served their prison sentences. Santorum asked Romney: "Do you believe people who have—who were felons, who served their time, who have extended—exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?" After Romney dithered a bit, Santorum added: "This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community." Finally Romney said: "I don’t think people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again. That’s my own view." This drew wild applause from the audience, an ugly one even by the standards of this GOP primary season.

Later, moderator Juan Williams asked Romney how, in light of his having signed, as Massachusetts governor, the first assault-weapon ban in the country, and raised fees on gun owners, Romney can "convince gun owners that you will be an advocate for them as president." Romney answered that the state gun lobby had supported his bill, then genuflected before the Second Amendment and concluded, "I do not believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use." Williams then reminded Santorum that he'd voted in Congress in favor of trigger locks on handguns and background checks on purchasers of guns at gun shows. Santorum answered that the National Rifle Association supported these bills; asserted that he voted against the Clinton-era assault weapon ban; genuflected before the Second Amendment; said he played "a leadership role" in passing a bill shielding gun manufacturers from liability; and noted that Ron Paul had voted against this bill. Paul said he voted against it because he was opposed to "national tort law." He also said, "I’m the one that offers all—all the legislation to repeal the gun bans that have been going on.... So that’s a bi —a bit of an overstretch to—to say that I’ve done away with the Second Amendment."

Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from owning a gun. Seems like kind of a good idea, no? The worst an ex-con is likely to do if given the right to vote is vote for a Democrat. (Because ex-cons are disproportionately African American and/or low-income, they tend to vote Democratic.) But give an ex-con a gun and there's a decent chance he'll use it to commit a crime. (According to a 1999 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, not allowing felons to buy guns reduces the likelihood that they'll commit a violent or gun-related crime by up to 30 percent.)

One deeply unfortunate but hardly surprising consequence of District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 Supreme Court decision affirming a Second Amendment right to bear arms regardless of whether one belonged to a "well-regulated" (or even poorly-regulated) militia, was its acceleration of a movement by the NRA to restore gun rights to felons at the state level, federal prohibition be damned. Michael Luo of the New York Times reported last year that in at least 11 states "many" nonviolent felons, sometimes after a brief probationary period, are automatically permitted to own guns after they've served their sentences. In Ohio, Minnesota, and Virginia, violent felons can petition to have their gun-ownership rights restored, and in Georgia and Nebraska "scores" of pardons that specifically allow convicted felons to own guns are issued every year. Even the federal prohibition has included an appeals process for the past 47 years thanks to a "relief from disability" program initiated at the request of gun manufacturers back in 1965. One pardon attorney quoted by Luo estimated that felons have a decent chance of eventually being permitted to own guns in more than half the states. "By [Republicans'] logic," Marie Diamond wrote on the liberal ThinkProgress Web site, "millions of ex-convicts can be trusted with guns, but not with ballots."

I'd like to hear the candidates weigh in on whether they support the federal ban on felony ex-cons owning guns. Should it be repealed? If so, how do they justify giving ex-cons guns but not ballots? Maybe they'll cop out by saying it's something more properly decided at the state level. But gee, we tried here in D.C. to decide at the state (well, "district") level not to allow guns at all, only to have the Supreme Court tell us that (unlike something trivial like voting) it was none of our business; this was a federal matter. As a liberal and as an American I want to know: Are Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry soft on crime when it comes to letting ex-felons own guns?


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist; constitution; felon; gun
Voting is far more dangerous than owning a gun. If they are allowed to vote, they should have the full rights of citizenship.
1 posted on 01/18/2012 5:47:40 AM PST by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Ex cons gets guns anyway...

I’ve worked around quite a few ex-felons and trust me, they are armed to the teeth.


2 posted on 01/18/2012 5:54:13 AM PST by Le Chien Rouge
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To: marktwain

If they have served their time why not?


3 posted on 01/18/2012 6:03:08 AM PST by jrd (DO AWAY WITH THE EPA)
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To: marktwain
“Williams then reminded Santorum that he'd voted in Congress in favor of trigger locks on handguns and background checks on purchasers of guns at gun shows. Santorum answered that the National Rifle Association supported these bills;”

Which is a flat out lie! Santorum proves he is a gun grabber and lies to claim it is a pro gun position.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more print on what Santorum said in that debate.

4 posted on 01/18/2012 6:05:08 AM PST by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: jrd

If someone cannot be trusted with full citizenry upon release, they should not be released amongst full citizens.


5 posted on 01/18/2012 6:05:21 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: marktwain

The writer first alleges that the Republicans favor felons’ getting guns, then asks what the candidates think about this. Why is he asking, if he already thinks that he knows?

Actually, there are different sorts of felonies: violent and non-violent, for example. Some are technical, like accidentally falling afoul of gun regulations in a state like NJ, and (under “no tolerance” rules), getting convicted on a technicality. Such as case is different from that of a freed murderer.

For the record, I disagree with Santorum on this one. Violent felons should not be given gun rights, nor should they get the right to vote. It would be good for people to know that if you become a criminal, you may loose certain rights. There is nothing peculiar about that.

Giving felons the right to vote can be labelled whatever: in Congress, they frequently name bills in a way which could not pass the regs for “truth in labeling”! The “Martin Luther King Voting Rights Bill” is clearly such a misleading title. So is “Job Creation Act.”


6 posted on 01/18/2012 6:06:38 AM PST by docbnj
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To: marktwain

Guns and ballots, or neither. Actually, if someone is too dangerous to own a gun, they’re too dangerous to let out of prison because there’s nothing that can reasonably be expected to keep them from getting guns as soon as they get out. So don’t let them out unless and until you’d be happy that they’re voting and owning guns both. Modify sentences to take these facts into account, if necessary.


7 posted on 01/18/2012 6:08:49 AM PST by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: marktwain

Before I toss those laws, I’d like to examine carefully why they were set in place in the first place. Was it just a dumb mistake? I doubt it.


8 posted on 01/18/2012 6:09:21 AM PST by bboop (Without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers? St. Augustine)
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To: marktwain
if in their stupidity, a legal system has decided to release a dangerous felon....and that felon is now allowed to roam the streets like everyone else...they should be allowed to protect themselves like anyone else...

the past few decades, the law has gone from felon exclusion...to misdemeanor for domestic violence in the courts....

crimes of domestic violence which men are so easily and often accused of by menopausal or scorned women....has become a joke.

the constitution does not limit constitutional rights because of criminal history.

9 posted on 01/18/2012 6:12:10 AM PST by Vaquero ("an armed society is a polite society" Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: marktwain

felons should not be able to vote or own guns. Period. I don’t think pedphiles, drug dealers, murderers, and rapists should have a voice in government. I would restore their RTKBA before I would let them have sway over our legislative bodies.


10 posted on 01/18/2012 6:15:40 AM PST by RC one (the majority of republicans agree, anyone but Romney.)
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To: RC one

Why should they be out of prison, then?


11 posted on 01/18/2012 6:16:43 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: marktwain

Anybody who cannot be trusted with a gun should not be running around loose. End of discussion!


12 posted on 01/18/2012 6:18:31 AM PST by JimRed (Excising a cancer before it kills us waters the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: marktwain
My opinion on the voting rights of felons...If the rats want to let felons vote it should be a state issue, and it has to also include restoring the right of gun ownership.

Tie the two together and the RAT states wont likely be looking to let felons vote to bump up their voter base. No way would they trust their felons to own guns. That would kill the issue dead in it's tracks in liberal states.

Conservative states may very well have the brains to give both rights back to those felons that pose no threat to society.

13 posted on 01/18/2012 6:22:34 AM PST by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: marktwain

My father can’t own a gun or vote simply because of a DUI many years ago. We are far too quick to take people’s rights. Once out from under sentence, all rights should be restored.
We’ve also become quick to make everything a felony for the express purpose of taking their rights.
What happened to the concept of no taxation without representation? If a person isn’t allowed the fully rights of a citizen, why should they feel any responsibility to our society?


14 posted on 01/18/2012 6:26:43 AM PST by LevinFan
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To: Beagle8U

On another thread, someone posted an article with a parallel argument involving voter photo ID.

If someone’s right to vote is being infringed by having to show an official ID in order to vote,

isn’t someone’s Constitutional 2nd Amendment right being violated by the ATF requirement to show photo ID to purchase a firearm?


15 posted on 01/18/2012 6:29:55 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: marktwain

Self defense is a basic human right, like food or shelter. It should not be denied lightly. If you trust them to walk around and drive a car, why not? If they are not safe holding a gun then they should be still in jail, or in the ground.


16 posted on 01/18/2012 6:34:06 AM PST by TalonDJ
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To: MrB
why not chop off a thief's hands? Why not stone an adulteror?you can't just lock up everyone for life. that's the reality of our judicial system like it or not. That doesn't mean that ex-felons should be able to form a political movement and influence legislation. We're already falling down the rabbit hole, no need to expedite it.
17 posted on 01/18/2012 6:39:01 AM PST by RC one (the majority of republicans agree, anyone but Romney.)
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To: RC one

“felons should not be able to vote or own guns.”

I have an associate who runs a public utility, a couple towns away. Been running it for 20 years. Three kids. Devoted family man. Got busted with a bag of pot 35 years ago. Felony. 2 years probation. Hasn’t even had a parking ticket since then. He should be able to vote, and be able to protect himself and his family.


18 posted on 01/18/2012 6:52:15 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: marktwain
But give an ex-con a gun and there's a decent chance he'll use it to commit a crime. (According to a 1999 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, not allowing felons to buy guns reduces the likelihood that they'll commit a violent or gun-related crime by up to 30 percent.)

Ah, guilt by statistics. (For instance: If you're young, black, male, and from the inner city, we'll just lock you up, and save the taxpayers the expense of a trial.)

The Department of Pre-Crime is alive and well.
19 posted on 01/18/2012 6:52:26 AM PST by LearsFool ("Thou shouldst not have been old, till thou hadst been wise.")
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To: Le Chien Rouge
"Ex cons gets guns anyway..."

Exactly!

20 posted on 01/18/2012 7:02:12 AM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: MrB
isn’t someone’s Constitutional 2nd Amendment right being violated by the ATF requirement to show photo ID to purchase a firearm?

Excellent point. I'm using this

21 posted on 01/18/2012 7:02:58 AM PST by kidd
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To: marktwain

yes, they should. Once they have served their time, they should be restored, not marked forever like in some dictatorship communist hell hole.


22 posted on 01/18/2012 7:03:13 AM PST by yldstrk ( My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: kidd

Photo ID for voting or gun buying article here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2834344/posts


23 posted on 01/18/2012 7:08:17 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: marktwain

They should not be allowed to vote.

Santorum was pandering to the black community when he suggested this.

Repeat offenders, anyone?

Some things one does have consequences. A few felons go on to live good lives and stay out of prison. That should be its own reward.

But they gave up the right to vote.

As for guns, you know the bumper sticker.


24 posted on 01/18/2012 7:08:42 AM PST by altura (Perry 2012)
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To: marktwain

Unless post-prison rights to gun ownership, voting, residency, etc is stipulated during sentencing (or part of any agreed upon parole conditions)...then any additional constraints to Constitutional rights amounts to double jeopardy and is unconstitutional.


25 posted on 01/18/2012 7:10:33 AM PST by kidd
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To: yldstrk

I would say that this should be judged on a case by case basis, since some of the people affected by this seem to be guilty of minor crimes.

But I don’t think felons, guilty of murder, manslaughter, armed robber, drug dealing, rape, molestation, etc. should have any privileges granted to them.


26 posted on 01/18/2012 7:13:44 AM PST by altura (Perry 2012)
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To: LevinFan

Same here with my brother. No vote/no guns because of a DUI which he served time for/went to rehab for. (One of the DUI’s occurred when he was SITTING in his car in his own driveway- shrew ex-wife called the cops). Thankfully he is recovered and helping others through AA. In the meantime, he can’t vote or own a gun. But illegals can do both.


27 posted on 01/18/2012 7:20:23 AM PST by Reddy (B.O. stinks)
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To: marktwain

I always thought that one’s “debt to society” was fulfilled upon completion of one’s sentence. That being the case, all rights should be restored. If we are so worried about a violent crime being committed by the excon due to his violent past that we keep him stripped of his rights even though he has completed his sentence then we should have hanged him from the getgo.


28 posted on 01/18/2012 7:30:42 AM PST by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: Beagle8U
Which is a flat out lie!

Are you sure? The NRA has supported a lot of gun control bills over the years (usually on the "lesser of two evils" theory). I suspect that Senator Santorum was following NRA instructions.

29 posted on 01/18/2012 7:50:05 AM PST by marktwain
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To: RC one

You choose to seize the basic rights of citizens because you don’t trust them. Think about who else the govenment can choose not to trust.
I’m well aware that most of them will vote dem, but we don’t have a right to seize their vote because we don’t agree with them.


30 posted on 01/18/2012 7:57:55 AM PST by LevinFan
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To: LearsFool

How on earth did they do this study? An early form of “gun walker”? Who was their test group?


31 posted on 01/18/2012 8:25:30 AM PST by Apogee
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To: MrB

If someone cannot be trusted with full citizenry upon release, they should not be released amongst full citizens.

Bingo !


32 posted on 01/18/2012 9:10:03 AM PST by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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To: marktwain
Voting is far more dangerous than owning a gun. If they are allowed to vote, they should have the full rights of citizenship.

You believe there is people out there, any one of whom is capable of holding his vote to your head and blowing your brains out?
33 posted on 01/18/2012 10:09:29 AM PST by Cheburashka (If life hands you lemons, government regulations will prevent you from making lemonade.)
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To: Cheburashka

Guns in unqualified hands may be more dangerous to individual citizens, but votes in unqualified hands are a danger to the entire republic. I believe the voting results for the last 75 years makes my point.


34 posted on 01/18/2012 11:57:34 AM PST by marktwain
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To: marktwain
Sorry, the NRA or the GOA don't support the bill to close the ‘so called’ gun show loophole.

The way it was written it would have ended all private sales of guns. Everything bought or sold would have to go through a FFL dealer.

The NRA fought against the law. Santorum lied.

35 posted on 01/19/2012 6:00:11 AM PST by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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