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North Carolina Ruling on Felons in Possession

Joe Huffman has the most thorough coverage of it, close enough to what I would have written to save me the time. I generally think it’s constitutional to deprive people convicted of certain crimes of their right t0 bear arms, but I think retroactively applying what is essentially a sentencing enhancement is ex post facto.  As Clayton Cramer is fond of saying, in the time of the founding, we deprived felons of their right to breathe oxygen, so it wasn’t a problem ever considered in the time.  Plus, I don’t think the founders ever considered felonies for putting lobesters in the wrong bag.

But despite the fact that I think some violent criminals can be constitutionally deprived, that’s not to say I agree with the current federal and many state regimes on this matter.  If the courts are willing to agree that blanket bans on gun possession by felons, violent or no, is unconstitutional, I have no issue.

5 Responses to “North Carolina Ruling on Felons in Possession”

  1. Arnie says:

    It is my considered opinion that ex post facto law is the most subtle form of tyranny, for it criminalizes overnight an entire group of people who did nothing illegal but are undesirable to a new majority of society and their recently installed government.
    Whether it is our slaveholding founding patriot-heroes, the cigarette-smoking movie greats Bogart, Gable, and Grant, or the gun-owning Selleck and Nugent, heroes of the past are being unfairly judged by the standards of the present, which is inevitably followed by the criminalization of the unpopular. To use a man’s erstwhile legal past to cloud his future is unfair; to criminalize him for it is unconstitutional!
    Now admittedly, the situation in NC is of a different flavor, but it is the same meat. To deprive a felon of certain liberties by due process is constitutional. To add new deprivations afterward is not!

  2. mobo says:

    I think it should have to be included during the sentencing phase as part of the sentence.

  3. Peter says:

    If someone is convicted of a ‘malum in se’ offense (murder, rape, robbery) then fine, no moar gunz 4 u.

    However, ‘malum prohibitum’ offenses are a different thing, especially since legislatures have this tendency towards feel-good laws, and Congress has been passing laws without mens rea provisions, so that a technical violation (the lobster thing is but one example) can get one disenfranchised without a lot of recourse.

  4. Jessup says:

    I agree with mobo that it only should be an option during the sentencing phase.

    Many years ago — before 1968 — an acquaintance of mine was convicted of a petty burglary, and spent a short time in prison, though of course that felony was punishable by a much longer sentence. The judge specifically made one of the conditions of his parole that he could possess and use firearms, since hunting and target shooting was regarded as “good, clean” activities that would serve to keep him out of trouble.

    How far we have come, thanks to our enshrinement of “law and order” nonsense as somehow being equivalent to being “pro-gun.”

  5. Jim W says:

    The lobster in the bag thing wasn’t a US law actually.
    It was supposedly a Honduran law.

    Basically he was convicted of a US law that makes it a felony to traffic in lobsters in violation of the laws of another country. Only problem is that the US court that convicted him of violating it was unaware that the underlying Honduran law had been repealed several years earlier and that the Honduran law was punishable by a small fine.

    And to top it off, Honduras has no extradition treaty with the US, so he could have just done nothing and he would have been fine. Instead he decided to come to the US to “clear his name” and ended up getting railroaded. He got 8 years in prison and a million dollar fine.

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