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Felons with badges – again

Regarding my post on a cop with a felony conviction who is a criminal, PawPaw writes:

Third, here in Louisiana we recognize that people, good people, can make mistakes and our laws reflect that.

I’m not so sure. Felon in possession is a federal crime and the ATF does not fund the program to uninfringe their gun rights. Someone who is a felon with a gun is always a federal criminal.

That is, unless I’m missing something here. I suppose a full pardon may work.

To be clear, I’m all for giving people second chances but no special treatment for cops. And, to be clear, I’m all for felons owning guns. If a released felon can’t be trusted with a gun, they should still be in jail. Once you’ve paid your debt to society, pick up where you left off.

11 Responses to “Felons with badges – again”

  1. tgirsch Says:

    If a released felon can’t be trusted with a gun, they should still be in jail.

    Really? By extension, then, anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun should be in jail? On the same principle, anyone in jail who cannot be trusted not to commit another crime should stay in jail, forever? Man, we’d better start building more prisons, and quick.

    Of course, we’re going to need lots of tax money to build all those prisons, so somebody had better cut taxes again. πŸ˜‰

  2. SayUncle Says:

    Are you going to make me look up which logical fallacy that is? πŸ˜‰

    Anyhoo, the point is once they pay their debt to society, they should be done paying that debt.

  3. markm Says:

    I’d modify that. If you take someone who’s spent years in prison and just let them out on the street, you’re setting them up to fail and wind up back in prison. So there are very good reasons for ending the sentence with a period on parole or something similar, where the convict is out in the world but under supervision while re-learning (or learning for the first time, in many cases) how to function like something besides a criminal. I don’t think the present parole system does a good job of this, but nothing at all would be far worse… And a prisoner who never qualifies for parole and stays in prison until the last day of his sentence might be a rock-hard stubborn innocent man but is far more likely to really be incorrigible.

    So, I’d say their “debt to society” should end at some definite time after their release from prison. Say, the end of parole and five years out in the world, whichever comes last. If someone has stayed out of trouble for five years, they probably will forever, and should get all their rights back. Until then, a no-guns rule won’t keep the ones that want to go back to armed robbery from getting a gun and doing so, but it can reduce temptations for those who actually are trying to go straight.

    Now, this could change depending on the society the convict is going back into. There was a time when the Federal penitentiary in Yuma, AZ, would store a man’s guns and hand them back to him as he left. That was when there was not much but Indians, coyotes, and lizards within hundreds of miles of the front gate, and a man might well need his gun to make it back to civilization – and when he did, most of the honest men there would be armed, too. An armed crook in an armed society is less of a threat than a disarmed crook in a society of disarmed victims.

  4. straightarrow Says:

    As it stands now, every sentence is a life sentence. The punishment never ends until death. We never make him whole. If those are the rules we should, at the least, have the guts to say so.

    Disallowing felons that have served their time and are out from under supervision the right to vote or possess firearms or the exercise of numerous other civil rights for life is counter to what most of us claim we believe, and is ineffectual anyway.

    If he can be trusted with firearms and is no more a threat to society than anybody else he poses no problem and should have as much right to self defense and defense of his family and country as anybody else. Rehabilitation has worked in that admittedly rare case.

    If, however, he cannot be trusted, he will not obey the strictures against him anyway. Should he be released in that circumstance, it places the average law abiding citizen in no worse a position than he was before the miscreant was captured the first time. Therefore if the public be armed, the criminal’s arms are less sufficient for his purposes.

    In the one instance we gain a solid citizen, in the other we lose nothing that wasn’t already lost to us. Prohibition of firearms solves not a damn thing. In the one case, it is inappropriate, in the other it is ineffectual.

  5. _Jon Says:

    I agree for the most part.
    I think it is BS to say “Your debt to society has been paid by the time you have served in prison.” “But you can’t be a full member of society – no guns, no votes, no home near a school, no security job, etc.” Either the debt is paid or not. In fact, it shouldn’t even be on a job application or gun registration. That information should be private and confidential between the person and the Justice System. The only time it should matter is if the person commits a crime and the judge has to take previous actions into consideration in the sentencing. Other than that, it should be a private matter after the person is released.

    (Yes, I know it is a *really* difficult situation with regard to child molesters. Studies show these people are never “cured”. I’ve got no solution to that problem right now.)

    With regard to the prison system, I think there should be two branches;
    – The first is for “Life” terms with no parole. These people should live the rest of their time in barracks no better than what an Army soldier lives in. Nothing like the plush existence they have today.

    – The second is for people who may get paroled or released. These people should be required to obtain some certification or skill before their release. For example, if a person is sentenced to 5 years, they should be required to get a BS degree in something within those 5 years. If their education isn’t high enough, they should start with a GED. But the sentencing laws should stipulate that a degree or trade (e.g. Electrician, plumber, etc) is required for release. This would help to ensure the soon-to-be-former criminal has a useful skill to be of benefit to society after their debt is paid.

    * And another thing – how in the heck do drugs get into prison? Can’t the “interaction process” be locked down to the point where there is *no* contraband in a prison. It’s a frickin’ prison for frickin’ sake!

  6. Sigivald Says:

    straight: What is it that “we” claim to believe that is violated by having a felon not be able to vote?

    I can’t think of anything I believe that is violated by that (though I make a caveat here for the expanding category of felonies-that-have-no-business-being-felonies).

    I can imagine arguments for and against such a policy, but I’m not going to accept at face value the claim that it violates something I believe, given that I can’t think of anything I believe that it violates. Maybe “we” don’t really believe exactly what you think?

    Jon: Why “should” that be so? I’m not sure that some debts (like that of murderers, especially) can ever be paid-in-full. Punished enough to not be in prison anymore does not imply, logically, the same state as someone who never (to keep with the example) murdered anyone in cold blood at all. (Again, I’m open to argument here, but my point is that if we start without questioning these assumptions as to what is justified, we’ll never get anywhere. To achieve anything, we must start by either agreeing on our groundings, or at least specifying them and acknowledging that the others in the discussion do or do not share them, and how, and why. Otherwise it’s just “A, because X!” vs “No, B, because Y!”)

    Also, I don’t see the Constitutional basis for “requiring” a degree, and even if I did, I’m not sure everyone is capable of doing so in such a period of time. What will we do if they keep failing one of the requirements… jail them until they pass Calculus II? Is that cruel and unusual punishment? I’d think yes, but that’s probably just my memories of Calc I.

    (And doesn’t it seem a bit odd to give criminals free post-secondary educations while people who don’t go to jail have to pay? I’m not at all opposed to some vocational and life-skills training to lower recidivism, but mandatory BS degrees?)

  7. PawPaw Says:

    Okay, lets get a grip on this idea. “For example, if a person is sentenced to 5 years, they should be required to get a BS degree in something within those 5 years. ” And if they don’t, what are we supposed to do about it? Keep them in jail? Oh, the Courts and ACLU would love that.

    So, okay, that ain’t gonna work. How about we require them to get training. But they don’t want any training. That ain’t gonna work either.

    Prisons offer rehab programs, AA programs, NA programs and many of them have educational programs up to and including college level. If the inmate doesn’t want to participate, doesn’t want parole, just wants to do his time and go home, then when the sentence is complete, we gotta let him go.

  8. _Jon Says:

    Well, I think “we gotta let him go” is something we can set within the sentencing laws.
    We have mandatory times and terms for certain acts, so I think we (as a society) can amend our laws to include mandatory certification before release.
    I’m sure the ACLU could put up a stink. But they are an organization – the ACLU doesn’t get to vote at the polls. And if the voters make a law, the courts are obligated to abide by it (assuming the law is properly written).

    I appreciate the feedback – it helps me make my argument stronger.
    (The Calc I comment was funny.)

  9. robert Says:

    So, all arguments made, this policeman burns, correct?

  10. TriggerFinger Says:

    I was recently analyzing a pair of cases cited in Parker that shed some light on this. It turns out that there are many state laws that allow for a felon to be armed “in the public interest” and the federal law has an appropriate exception for such cases as well. I haven’t looked it up myself, but that’s the way I understand the arguments being made in FOP I.

    Personally, I don’t see how it is in the public interest to be employing felons as police officers, armed or not.

  11. TriggerFinger Says:

    Oh, and the reason for the lawsuits is that the federal law about misdemeanor domestic violence convictions or restraining orders does NOT contain such an exception. So, a cop who has a boilerplate restraining order filed by his wife in the middle of a divorce can’t carry his gun and is thus out of a job; while a cop with a felony conviction for murder could remain armed so long as someone deemed it in the public interest. I’m not surprised the FOP doesn’t like that situation.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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