Should a Felon Be Allowed to Own Guns?

Should a felon be allowed to own guns? Image Source: Wilson Law Firm
Should a felon be allowed to own guns? Image Source: Wilson Law Firm

NBC-2 News, FL. Asked the question,  Should a Convicted Felon Be Allowed to Own Guns?

“There’s a new push in Florida to make it much easier for convicted felons to restore their rights to own a gun.

In Florida, once you’re a felon, you can’t vote, own a gun or run for office.

But according to HB 903, once you’ve served your time, a county judge could determine if you can own a gun again.”

What is a felon? Image Source: geocities.ws/mskdhenchman

What is a felon? Image Source: geocities.ws/mskdhenchman

To answer that question, you must first define the term “felon.” Most people would equate that term with rapists, murderers or other violent criminals. However, many felonies are non-violent in nature. A felony is perceived as the most serious of crimes, punishable by death or by more than one year in prison.

The “one year in prison” is key, because the federal definition of “prohibited possessors” uses that phrase as well. It never uses the term felon or felony. So, even non-felony misdemeanors can result in the loss of your right to keep and bear arms. As described by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.

According to Meldon Law in Florida: Felonies are divided by several degrees of severity, which stipulate different levels of punishment.

  • Capital Felony: death or life imprisonment with no parole
  • Life Felony: life imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $15,000
  • Felony in the First Degree: up to 30 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000
  • Felony in the Second Degree: up to 15 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000
  • Felony in the Third Degree: up to 5 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $5,000

NON-VIOLENT FELONIES

  • Failure to remit sales tax greater than $300.
  • Selling license plates or validation stickers.
  • Tampering with an odometer.
  • False application for driver’s license or identification card.
  • Possession of simulated identification.
  • False statement or representation to obtain or increase unemployment compensation benefits.
  • Offenses against intellectual property.
  • Purchase or Possession (more than 20 grams) of cannabis.
  • Stopping payment with intent to defraud $150 or more.
  • Passing worthless check $150 or more.

This is just a small sample of a very long list of non-violent Florida felonies. The consequences of a felony conviction in Florida are significant and include:

  • Loss of the right to vote, hold office or run for office.
  • Disqualified from jury duty for 7 years.
  • Loss of the ability to have a firearm.
  • Loss of professional licenses.
  • Employment restrictions to include
    termination.
  • Inability to serve in the U.S. military.
  • Restrictions on family adoptions.
  • Eviction by landlord, or from public housing.
  • Loss of federal assistance for higher education.
  • Loss of state benefits.
  • And More…

That is just a sampling of the level of misconception most people have when discussing “felons.” Now that we know a felon is not necessarily a violent threat to society, we can discuss the question more rationally.

It doesn’t take much critical thinking skill to see the reason for criminal recidivism. A relatively minor crime can cost you your housing, employment, education, the right to effective self defense and even your participation in government. You become a literal outcast, a second class citizen with little control of your life or the world around you. How do you reintegrate into a society while being essentially banned from all aspects of that society?

When we ask “Should a felon be allowed to own guns?” Are we asking the right question? Obviously, we don’t WANT violent criminals running around armed, but do such laws actually PREVENT them from getting guns? The answer to that is obviously NO. All such laws can do is allow government to punish someone again and more severely, after the fact.

The real question is, “why do we release continued violent threats back into society?”

Rather than focusing on the gun, perhaps we should be looking at our legal and corrections systems. Rather than making it harder for felons to assimilate back into society, perhaps we should redefine what constitutes a felony. Are bad checks, rolling an odometer back or failing to pay sales tax worthy of losing your rights and ability to function in society?

Can’t our criminal justice system rehabilitate? Can’t we develop some method of threat assessment to determine who is a legitimate threat to society and who isn’t? Those who are not a violent threat should have their rights restored upon release. Shouldn’t they?

A free man or woman, despite past offenses, should have every right and opportunity of any other citizen. Those who are a continued threat should not be set free. Should they? Doesn’t it make more sense for them to remain incarcerated or be otherwise subject to constant adult supervision? At least until they have been rehabilitated or somehow assessed to be no longer a threat to society.

Mass incarceration, criminal warehousing, felon university. Image Source: Giles Clarke / Getty Images

Mass incarceration, criminal warehousing, felon university. Image Source: Giles Clarke / Getty Images

It’s not enough to simply warehouse criminals then release them into society with rules they won’t follow and no hope of integration.

One final thought, who is threatened by a felon having a gun? Everyone? All of society? NO. An armed felon, even a violent continued threat, is only a threat to those who are not willing or able to defend themselves. If we focus on our own personal responsibility, self defense and awareness then we don’t need to deny the rights of others to gain a false sense of security.

Equal protection under the law does not mean setting up a caste system in society. Which is exactly what we have done. We have government elites, lawmakers who pass laws that violate constitutional rights. Then we have “law-abiding” citizens, who could at any moment become criminals simply due to the sheer volume and complexity of those laws. Last, but not least, the felon, those who have been deemed unworthy, served their punishment, yet are still outcasts in society. A life sentence, if you will. Denied rehabilitation, denied rights and denied most of what defines a free citizen. That’s NOT America, or at least it’s not supposed to be.

Author, Advocate, Blogger & Zombie Aficionado. Air Force veteran and jack of all trades, with a wide range of experience with many different cultures around the world as well as working alongside both CEOs and average Joes. “Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion.” A passion that has taken him in many directions from history to zombies to advocacy to News especially in this day and age of “Fake News” and “Alternative Facts.” The Truth Is Out There!

About the Author

Jon Britton
Author, Advocate, Blogger & Zombie Aficionado. Air Force veteran and jack of all trades, with a wide range of experience with many different cultures around the world as well as working alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from history to zombies to advocacy to News especially in this day and age of "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts." The Truth Is Out There!

7 Comments on "Should a Felon Be Allowed to Own Guns?"

  1. I have a felony in cali for possesion of over 1 once of weed,30 yrs ago.and being screwed of any right to teach my grandchildren about safe gun use sucks.they should make this in every state

  2. As a felon, I pled guilty to two counts of forgery 29 years ago. I served 93 days in jail on a work release program and 3 years of probation with zero problems. I learned my lesson I have had only minor traffic tickets since my conviction. (2) I can apply to have my record expunged and restoration of my civil rights. The problem is it takes a lawyer and about $10k up front to start the process with no guarantee that ether will be granted. Getting my record expunged does not let me work for the government, does not let me get a DOD security Clearance to work on government contracts at my work, and will not allow me to work at an airport. So to me I think I have paid my dues and should be square with the house again without the $10k process. I would love to restore the collection of guns I owned before my stupidity as shooting is one of my favorite things to do. I have thought hard about getting a self defense gun and praying I never have to use it. The risk is just too much so I don’t. I do have a crossbow and a bow hanging on the wall within easy reach but it’s just not the same. Prison and I just wouldn’t get along. To me there should be a way without making some lawyer richer for me to get my rights restored.

  3. Randy, im in same boat as you mine happen 20 years ago, not even a ticket since.attornys want so much.call county clerk or online get your states second chance law paperwork printed. It tell you all needed then when done.state police check etc.you file with fees 2-300 here.and wait you cut out attorny its what im donna do ea state differante.look your states SECOND CHANCE law see if you can

  4. Hmmm, let’s see. It’s the law that if I break certain laws I loose some rights. Since I decided to break said law(s) and have been good since then, we need to change the law.

    Sounds about right. You do the crime, there are consequences. Don’t want to suffer those consequences, don’t break the freaking law.

  5. I too believe that once a person has paid for thier crime , that should be enough. I can tell you from experience that many doors have been shut to me .and many times made me feel hopeless. It’s not fair that a person is punished their whole life. We’ve all sinned and for the most part sometimes we just have to gain wisdom. I’m no harm to anyone, shame on the government for putting their foot on good people’s necks.

  6. hey Mike

    liberals just got in power
    and redefined the laws along w/ making everything retroactive
    or even just made all the speeding your phone gps can be made to tell on a felony level of violation

    would you be more comfortable in jail where at least somebody is on the job for your security OR prefer govt to have mercy on you by letting you stay outside disarmed?

  7. @ Mike, It’s not that cut and dry. I have a felony that was over 25 years ago and since then you won’t find a speeding ticket on my record. I am a single father who has custody of my child (the Judge thought I was good enough to raise my kid) I do volunteer work and by any measure, I am a great member of society. What was my felony for? It was for buying a stolen kitchen appliance for which I was giving to my mom as a Christmas present, yes it was wrong but I was just a kid (17) and the item wasn’t stolen from an individual. Granted as I said it was wrong but it was still considered a felony so I will now spend the rest of my life labeled a felon. Not only do I have no hope of having a gun for recreation or self-defense but I can never get a good job because a quick background check comes up as me being a felon. Don’t you think that if a person over the course of 25 years and has never committed a crime since deserves a break or as you said “Don’t want to suffer those consequences, don’t break the freaking law” I will assume when you were 17 you were an angel and never did anything (if caught) that would have put you in the same position. There is a difference between a violent felon and a person charged with a felony!

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