(2000 words)

Conviction on a felony is generally a sign of poor judgement. Significantly poor judgement that punishment by the State is warranted. What that tells me is the person convicted of a felony is… well… not exactly going to be a responsible and law abiding gun owner.
But… there are so many exceptions to that rule that it cannot really be called a rule. Non-violent felonies, drug addicts that have been clean for year, etc… etc… etc… is it appropriate to institute a lifetime ban on gun ownership because of stupid actions taken years ago? Is there a human alive that did not do stupid crap as a teen?
If you have a rap sheet as “long as your arm.” I kind of think you should be barred from legally purchasing a gun. On the other hand, if you have a single conviction, I am going to say… it depends.
While I would very much like to see all restrictive gun control laws stricken from the books, I would be quite happy to see some of them loosened up a bit, and if it starts by re-defining what constitutes a prohibited person, I say good!
Unfortunately, Criminal Recidivism is a real thing. Like the majority re-offend.

I have no problem with granting civil rights back to felons and criminals after they have served their time, including any parole or probation, and several years have elapsed. Start with voting rights after say two years? Gun rights after five?

One exception should be repeat offenders. Maybe the answer is they can only apply for restoration of rights once? Or maybe the second time is only after 10 or 20 years of crime free life.
— rd

For a long time, I attempted to split the baby. I wanted our Second Amendment protected rights to be free from infringement. At the same time, I could see that there were certain common-sense restrictions on certain people owning guns.

My ability to accept “common-sense gun restrictions” evaporated when the term “common-sense” was usurped by the gun control extremists.

It then became, “Gun control means being able to hit your target, every time.”

At this point in my life, I’m a Second Amendment absolutists. “What part of ‘shall not infringe’ don’t you understand?”

This is a conversation I had with a friend recently. They were talking about the magic section 33 —Department of Justice Government of Canada, Charterpedia - Section 33 – Notwithstanding clause, (last visited Sep. 22, 2023). This is a clause in the Canadian “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” which allows the state to suspend most freedoms and most rights. I’m not a Canadian, it was just gross to learn about it.

I brought up GFZ, he found one of my articles, and we started discussing Second Amendment protected Rights. He wanted to establish that he had more “chops” in legislative and legal actions than I did.

When he asked what cases I was tracking, I mentioned one, off the top of my head: —United States v. Rahimi, No. 21-11001 (5th Cir.)

Before I could talk about it, he had pulled up the mainstream media accounts. Which brings us to here, the moral dilemma.

As a Second Amendment absolutist, I believe that any arm should be available to any person. Shall not be infringed. This means that it is not limited to bearable arms. It includes tanks and planes, mortars and heavy artillery. All arms are protected under the Second Amendment.

Remember, at the time of the founding, regular people owned warships. That is the equivalent of a warship today, including those that fly and crawl over the land.

As for who can possess arms, there are only two classes, in my opinion, those that are incarcerated and those that are not.

If you are incarcerated, you have lost many of your rights. That is part of the punishment.

My friend claimed that this is unworkable. That I should strive for something that is workable.

My contention is that if a person is a threat to themselves or others, then they should be incarcerated. If they do not meet that criteria, then you do not get to punish them. If they have committed a crime and been found guilty in a court of (utopian) law, then they can be incarcerated.

Punishing somebody for pre-crime is not acceptable. I think you might commit violence upon me or my family, so I am going to have the state punish you.

That punishment is to take your guns away but leave you with your knives, matches, gas cans, cars, and hammers.

Since the punishment doesn’t stop violence nor does it actually disarm you, it is just punishment.

Going back to my Canadian friend, he elaborated on a person being disarmed only after the proper authorities determined that he should be disarmed. He failed, at any point, to understand that it was him causing that punishment. He considers the state to be disjoint from himself. It is not.

We were using the idea of his crazy neighbor, who he considers to be dangerous. His opinion was that it was better to have his neighbor be disarmed because that means he wouldn’t kill his neighbor.

Yeah, hard to wrap my head around that. He’s thoughts were not articulated well, which is why it took me some time to digest it. I believe that what he was attempting to say was one of two different things, and which meaning he wanted to use changed depending on what I was countering.

The first was that without the state stepping in and disarming his dangerous neighbor, he, personally, would have to decide how much of a threat his neighbor was and then act on that, violently.

The second was that without the state stepping in, he would just decide to act first, killing his neighbor.

To “prove” his point, he asked me to consider what would happen if somebody walked into a bank “with a gun”.

I told him, “nothing, I do it all the time.”

He had a hard time wrapping his head around that concept. He attempted to clarify that the gun wasn’t concealed. Again, I answered “nothing”. Because I do it all the time.

(Note, I often carry a full size 1911 in an IWB holster. Much of the top of the gun can be seen if I’m wearing my shirt tucked in. I will sometimes carry in an OWB holster. It is a little more comfortable. Depending on the shirt/coat combination, it will sometimes show. So not “open carry” but not worried that it is completely concealed.)

He still perceived it as a threat. His thought was that somebody seeing a gun on a man’s hip in a bank, not a cop, not security, would lead to violence.

He didn’t get it that having a gun on you is not an indicator of violence or impending violence, it is only at that moment when the threat becomes imminent that it is a true threat. It is only then that a response is required.

I think that one of the problems he has, is that he can’t see himself being able to differentiate between somebody who is just carrying and somebody who is a threat.

So he tried again, changed it from open carry of a pistol, to open carry of a rifle. My response stays the same. If that rifle is slung, and not being brandished, it is not an issue. As soon as they start brandishing, the threat level goes through the roof.

I believe that he didn’t want the responsibility of making those types of decisions. So he would prefer the state do it for him. He had no idea how the state would learn that his neighbor had to be evaluated, just that the state would do it for him. He would not have to report his neighbor, it would just magically happen.

Part of the problem I have with pre-crime punishments, such as disarming a person, is that I do not want the state to have that power. In soviet Russia, there were a great many mental institutions holding many mentally disturbed people. All of those people had been evaluated by professionals and according to the best references of the state, they found those people so mentally disturbed that they had to be institutionalized/incarcerated.

They knew these people were “crazy” because they doubted the flawless nature of the party and the Soviet. I.e., if someone spoke ill of the state or the powerful, they were crazy and would be locked up.

I never want our government to have that power.

Which brings us back to the moral dilemma. What should we do with people that cannot be trusted with guns?

Those people fall into a very few classes.

Criminals. If you are a criminal, and you are convicted of a crime, you will be sentenced. Your sentence will consist of time incarcerated plus time on probation. You might also have a fine to pay.

For the duration of your sentence, you are being punished, that includes the right to own firearms or vote.

This means that if you are sentenced to 20 years, and you are released in 5 for “good behavior and over crowding” you are still being punished. It is another 15 years before you get your right to vote and posses firearms back.

This is almost a match for history and tradition. Consider the fact that criminals were often handed their firearms back as they left prison. Mind you, that’s only Hollywood research, but I believe it to be the truth.

Of course, the courts could abuse this. Sentencing people to time served and 40 years of probation. That’s a different battle and one I know would have to be fought.

The second class is the class of people that are a threat to themselves or others.

Simple, commit them. If they are truly a threat to themselves or others, there are laws on the books today to deal with it. While they are committed, they lose their right to vote or posses firearms.

We still have the problem of the Soviet style of “mental illness”, “Oh you want to keep and bear arms? That is crazy, off to the insane asylum with you”.

Which leaves the last class of person. Those that do not have the mental capacity to safely handle firearms.

This is hard. My 12 yo daughter had the mental capacity to safely handle firearms, my 12 yo son did not. My next door neighbor has dementia, he could not safely handle a firearm because he is no longer capable of making good decisions.

Safely handling a firearm is different from “I’m afraid they might shoot somebody.”

A few years ago, I went to my son’s school to talk to the principal about something my son’s teacher had written on his paper. I thought we had a constructive discussion. During the conversation, she kept repeating a phrase that was offensive to me. I finally said, “When you say phrase, it makes me want to jump down your throat.”

She stopped using that phrase. We finished our discussion. On the way out the door, she asked me why I didn’t become a teacher. She thought I would make a good teacher.

The next day, I got a note home from the school via my son saying I wasn’t allowed on school property because I had threatened the principal.

After I left, she discussed me with the school superintendent. He had called just as I was leaving. She didn’t call about me. She must have mentioned that phrase “jump down your throat”. The superintendent told her that “jump down your throat” was a threat of physical violence.

It is not.

Her perception, and his, had no relationship with reality. She just perceived a threat.

My neighbor is not a threat to me. He is not enough of a threat to get the state involved. He is just easily confused. He’s broken.

I will not turn my back on him.

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By awa

8 thoughts on “A Moral Dilemma”
  1. Locally, a seven year clean felon retreated into his home and returned with his wife’s pistol to stop pitbulls in the process of attacking his daughters playing in the neighborhood.
    Prosecutor didn’t press charges.
    Technically he was guilty of possession and his wife guilty of providing access to a prohibited person. Prosecutorial discretion is a thing… And the public outcry would have been severe if one or both parents were to be charged. But clearly the law is too broad if this discretion is applied.

  2. Absolutist is fine.
    And, I generally support the right to own whatever you want to own, under the condition it is used in a law abiding and responsible manner. Want a nuclear bomb? Not a problem with me as long as you use it in a law abiding and responsible manner.
    Your example of a person carrying in a bank. Are the acting in a responsible manner? Not a problem to me.
    I think “safe/sensitive spaces” are stupid. Where I live, it is against state law to carry into a place that sells alcohol. Not just bars, but shops as well. Technically, I cannot pick up a six pack on the way home because… reasons. The law was written to discourage carrying of firearms in areas where alcohol is served, but was written so broadly it applies to shops as well. I think there is zero reason to restrict the carry of guns in the local shop.
    And, that is the crux of the issue here. Stupid applications of the law. I say get rid of them. No restrictive gun control law has ever been shown to reduce crime, or make people safer.
    Have felons demonstrated they are irresponsible and not law abiding? Yep. Should they get their right to own/possess/use firearms restored the moment they walk out of prison? No…yes… maybe… etc… Depends. Prisons have a tendency to turn criminals into better, more dangerous criminals sometimes. Certain assumptions must be made. Trust but verify.
    One of the problem with absolutists is the absolute part. I am about 90% of an absolutist, I add the “law abiding and responsible” to it.

    1. What if they are law-abiding and responsible now? By 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(3) I could be a prohibited person. I tried pot back at University. I was never a “user”. My dorm mates that smoked every weekend and some weeknights were “users”. Having a hit with friends maybe 5 times, I do not consider to be the same. The law says they are the same because there is no time limit on “user of a controlled substance.”
      If somebody was sentenced for felony manslaughter when they were 18 because they hit somebody with their car, should they be able to exercise their right to armed self-defense when they are 70?
      Because I do not want the state deciding such issues, I instead go the absolutist path, shall not be infringed.

  3. One major difference between 2023 and 1791?

    Here in 2023, you kidnap, rape, murder, or otherwise commit a serious (felony) crime, and you are likely to get out in a decade or less. Back in the Revolutionary War era? You would be hung by the neck until dead. That really cut down on recidivism up until we got “liberalized and civilized” in the 1960’s. Now the death penalty is illegal in most of the US states, and even the humane alternative “Life without Parole” is under attack by the liberals, just like the death penalty was 50 years ago.

    If the elimination of the felony prohibition is done by the legislature, I will agree that some compromise is needed and necessary. For political expediency, we should be willing to compromise on getting the first half of the loaf.

    If it is removed by the courts, then any action other than complete removal would be legislating by the courts, and we saw the downside of that in 50 years of Roe v. Wade.

  4. All life has a right to self defense.

    As far as I am concerned, if you cannot be trusted with a gun, then you need to be conserved… 24/h supervised, by someone who *can* be trusted, both with a gun, and with the task of supervision.

    You can lock them up, you can put them to death, you can follow them around, whatever you think you can afford, but if you take away their right to defend themselves (with a gun) then that duty falls on you.

    That part about “affording” it, is the tricky part, and the part where most folks can’t seem to balance a checkbook. When researching the origins of the word “fuck”, I was intrigued to discover documents where a fellow had become a serious liability to a smal (poor) community circa 15 or 16 hundreds… The elders simply issued a decree declaring that the community had “removed it’s protection” from this individual. Therefore, anyone could do with him as they pleased. An economical solution.

  5. This isn’t complicated. Anyone who can’t be trusted to possess a firearm can’t be trusted to be around other people. Lock em up and keep em there. And yes…past history is not a guarantee of future actions but it’s a
    pretty good indicator.

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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