A federal district court ruling last month ruled that a Connecticut law which bans all felons from being precious metal dealers is unconstitutional, because the law failed to establish any rational basis for doing so regarding any number of felonies that don’t have elements that would be of concern to someone dealing in precious metals.Â Eugene Volokh points out that this is very similar to the law which bars all felons, violent or non-violent, from possessing firearms. Though he does note that the ruling is quite out of step with how the courts typically do rational basis analysis, and he expects it to be overturned on appeal.
But I tend to think there has to be some limit on the power to strip people of their right to keep and bear arms due to a criminal conviction. Otherwise what is to prevent a state from arguing that even traffic offenses are disabling? Clearly if you misuse an automobile in an irresponsible manner, we can’t trust you with a gun, can we? It would pass rational basis review. But it has to have its limits. Likewise, even under present law, a woman could be stripped of her right to keep and bear arms for pushing her husband out of the way while storming out of the house during a heated argument if the husband and/or police and prosecutors wanted to make an issue of it.