Monday, November 14, 2011

Only in America

Since the days of the Wild West, America has had a fascination with guns. Through a misinterpretation of the Second Amendment and the relentless lobbying of the National Rifle Association, restrictions on owning guns and carrying concealed weapons are few and far between. The NRA’s position is especially frightening because it promotes ownership of high-capacity automatic assault weapons whose only purpose is to kill and maim large numbers of people.

Now, as an article in today’s New York Times points out, even ex-felons are finding it easy to obtain guns and carry concealed weapons. In most cases, once a felon completes his prison sentence, restoration of gun rights is automatic or amazingly simple.

No doubt, ex-felons who want a gun are likely to get one, whether legally or illegally. But the article points out that in jurisdictions where former felons are denied gun rights, there is up to a 30% less chance that they will commit another violent crime. Yet, eleven states automatically restore felons’ gun rights without even a single review or hearing. Attempts to inject some sanity into this process are constantly thwarted by the NRA.

While ex-felons can obtain guns without much of a hassle, another right, one guaranteed by the Constitution, continues to elude them. In the United States, 5.3 million ex-felons who have served their time are barred from voting - a critical right that would bring them back into the mainstream of society. This, despite the fact that studies have shown that ex-felons who are able to vote are half as likely to commit another crime.

It’s crazy that the gun lobby holds so much power promoting weapons that kill people, while the voting rights lobbies struggle to provide basic rights to ex-felons.

1 comment:

  1. Money quote from the NYT article:

    "The federal gun restrictions would no longer apply if a state had restored a felon’s civil rights — to vote, sit on a jury and hold public office — and the individual faced no other firearms prohibitions."

    So if you restore some "civil rights", you restore them all. My guess is the general sentiment of NRA members to violent felons is no voting rights, no gun rights, in fact don't let them out in the first place.

    It is ironic that a resident of New Jersey would claim the "restrictions on...carrying concealed weapons are few and far between". It is virtually impossible to get a concealed carry permit in NJ. As a result, the only people who carry concealed weapons are the ones that don't care that it is a felony. These are precisely the people you don't want carrying concealed weapons.