Virginia Governor Ignites Firestorm: Should Certain Felons Have their 2A Right Restored?

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. (Photo: Salon.com)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. (Photo: Salon.com)

Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe created some controversy last month when he announced his intention to restore the voting rights of some 200,000 Virginia felons via executive order. The order also reinstates the rights of Virginia felons to run for office, to serve on a jury, and to serve as a notary public, provided they have completed any release, parole, or probation requirements.

Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly promptly countered by announcing their intention to sue McAuliffe, claiming the governor does not have the authority to restore felons’ constitutional rights en mass. His executive order, they say, is a clear-cut case of administrative overreach.

Republicans have also accused McAuliffe of political manipulation, holding that the order is nothing more than a political move meant to boost Hillary Clinton’s vote count in Virginia’s presidential election.

Democrats, meanwhile, see the Republican lawsuit as a thinly-veiled attempt to block a Democratic victory in the upcoming election at the expense of thousands of newly-reinstated Virginia residents. The Atlantic even goes so far as to note the racist roots of Virginia’s disenfranchisement laws, a not-so-subtle jab at Republicans looking to maintain the status quo.

But amidst the posturing and backbiting, few have had the courage to mention the elephant in the room: gun rights.

Under McAuliffe’s order, convicted felons can vote, run for office, serve on a jury, and act as a notary, but, according to the language of the order itself, “Nothing in this Order restores the right to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.” McAuliffe wants to restore Virginia felons’ right to vote, but he specifically and explicitly denies their right to keep and bear arms.

Anti-gunner bias seems to be fueling McAuliffe’s moves, but the broader question—should convicted felons have the right to own guns?—is a complex, multifaceted issue. There are persuasive arguments both for and against felon firearm ownership, a few of which I’ve tried to reproduce below.

For

If society trusts felons enough to allow them to serve on a jury and act as a notary, shouldn’t we trust them enough to own firearms? That’s the argument A. Barton Hinkle makes in a recent op-ed in the Richmond-Times Dispatch: “Having paid their debt, felons should be able to rejoin civil society as full members in good standing,” Hinkle writes. “Why shouldn’t the same principle that applies to voting rights apply to gun rights?”

Hinkle also notes the many instances of non-violent felony offenses, such as the possession of drugs, breaking and entering, burglary, the possession of “burglarious tools,” theft, and stealing a chicken worth more than $5. None of these offenses suggest a history of violence; neither do they warrant a lifelong suspension of constitutional rights.

Finally, like the Democrats in Virginia’s legislature, Hinkle points out the racist history of laws that deny black Americans the right to own a gun. “Depriving blacks of the right to arms was one among many ways that the South subjugated blacks,” he says. Since the vast majority of convicted felons in Virginia are African-American, McAuliffe’s order disproportionally affects that community and continues to deprive them of the right to defend themselves.

Ultimately, Hinkle concludes, we should encourage felons who have completed their probation or parole requirements to reenter society as first-class citizens. If this means we reinstate their right to vote, it also must mean we reinstate their right to own a firearm for self-defense.

Against

The argument against felon firearm ownership boils down to one simple formulation: because felons have demonstrated an unwillingness to obey the law, society shouldn’t trust them with the responsibility of owning a deadly weapon.

The anti-gun industry will ban guns wherever it can, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see this kind of argument being made by the anti-gun media. This Los Angeles Times article, for instance, calls the Heller Supreme Court decision (the one that solidified the individual right to keep and bear arms) “unfortunate,” and says that while society shouldn’t continue to punish felons for their crimes, “guns are a different matter.”

But consider this. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and author of the Heller decision, stated in that ruling that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons.”

If the anti-gun crowd was the only group arguing against felon firearm ownership, their arguments could be disregarded as nothing more than fear and anti-gun prejudice. But what do we do when one of the greatest champions for the Second Amendment also supports the prohibition on the possession of firearms by felons?

Scalia, of course, may have had ulterior motives for including that language in his decision. He may have done so as a kind of peace offering to the anti-gun community or as a way to prove his willingness to compromise. It is also possible that Scalia, despite his brilliance and defense of the Second Amendment, was simply wrong on this issue.

But Scalia’s stance encourages a closer look at the ownership and possession of firearms by felons. The pro-gun community rightly objects to gun control because it restricts the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. But what about citizens who have shown themselves to be non-law-abiding? Should they regain all of their constitutional rights upon the completion of their sentence, or should we restrict their ability to own or possess firearms?

Violent vs. non-violent?

One solution is for state and federal laws to distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes when determining the eligibility of a felon to own a firearm. In his criticism of Governor McAuliffe’s executive order, Peter Roff points out that

Just as all criminals are not the same, neither are all crimes… That a person who used a gun in the commission of a crime and went to prison for it should not have his gun rights restored is a persuasive argument. It is equally persuasive, however, that a person convicted of felony murder or a child molester is not as welcome back into society as someone who did time on a minor drug possession charge. The actions that landed them in prison are not equal from either a moral or legal standpoint; the consequences should not be equal either.

The problem with McAuliffe’s order—and all laws that prescribe blanket prohibitions on convicted felons—is that not all felonies are created equal. There is a huge disparity, in fact, between types of felony charges as well as what those charges suggest about the violent behavior of those who are convicted of them.

A person convicted of a drug charge, for instance, has not proven themselves to be a violent threat to society—with or without firearms. On the other hand, a person convicted of a violent crime—whether assault, manslaughter, or murder—has shown a willingness to use (illegal) violent force, and a firearm could make them all the more dangerous. This is not to say these individuals should never have their rights restored. As this study suggests, staying out of trouble for 10 years renders former felons just as likely to commit a crime as non-felons of the same age. But this survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that nearly a third of felons convicted of a violent crime commit another violent crime within the first five years of release. Allowing these men and women to own a gun could escalate a subsequent assault into a murder.

It’s a tricky issue with no clean solution. Thousands of men and women convicted of violent felonies have turned their lives around, and are no more likely to commit another violent crime than any other citizen. While lawmakers and officials have a responsibility to pass laws and regulations that promote the safety of the general population, they must be careful to distinguish between types of crimes as well as individual criminals. They must also remember that criminals will obtain guns regardless of legality, and they cannot sacrifice the rights of the majority in their pursuit of the crimes of the few.

The good news is that Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 prohibits the federal government from passing McAuliffe-esque, top-down executive orders. The FOPA provides that the federal prohibition on firearms possession by a felon does not apply to individuals who have had their civil rights restored by the state where the felony conviction occurred:

“Any conviction which has been expunged, or set aside or for which a person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored shall not be considered a conviction for purposes of this chapter, unless such pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly [or implicitly as a matter of state law] provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.”

This gives states the power to determine which kind of crimes deserve a lifelong ban on Second Amendment rights and which do not.

Currently, 21 states distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes when determining the eligibility of felons to own or possess firearms: Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Many of these states include a five or ten-year waiting period, and some states not on this list simply reinstate a felon’s gun rights no matter the crime.

To distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes seems like a good way to maximize liberty while protecting life and property, but no solution is perfect. The Second Amendment is no less important than the First Amendment or the right to vote, and lawmakers need to understand the seriousness of a lifelong ban on the right to keep and bear arms. Governor McAuliffe clearly does not understand this principle, and residents of Virginia would do well to take their governor to task for his explicit denial of Second Amendment rights.

About the Author: Jordan Michaels is a new convert to the gun world. A Canadian immigrant to the United States, he recently became an American citizen and is happily enjoying his newly-acquired Second Amendment freedoms. He’s a communications professional, a political junkie, and an avid basketball fan.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • rabrooks May 23, 2016, 3:29 am

    Why are we as gun owners, expected to know every gun law of our individual states, when the lawyers don’t even kn ow them?

  • rabrooks May 23, 2016, 3:23 am

    The problem is what to do about the “arrested for” question. That “arrested for” still stands no matter what the resolution is. Even if “charges dismissed” or case “thrown out” with no conviction, that “arrested for” will continue to come up on the state questioner even with “no conviction”. This adds to the “rejection” pile, and is what haunts so many people.

  • Nick May 22, 2016, 1:21 pm

    I do prison ministry and work with convicts and ex cons in both Oregon and Washington and I will say that there’s a distinction, albeit on a case to case basis, between violent and non violent offenders. I agree that there should be concise language when determining whether to restore firearms rights. That said I feel that the non violent should be given that right to get their rights back. Obviously I wouldn’t be as quick to consider restoring a career criminals rights unless they have met some criteria. I know ex cons who are eligible for their 2A rights to be restored and they fall under some specific regulations: In WA we are more open about restoring rights, but only for non violent crimes. There had to be a time lapse from the time of the offense, DOC obligations finished (fines, supervision, community service, restitution), and prove to the DOC that they’re rehabilitated. That said, I know those who served time for armed robberies back in the 70’s that had their rights restored. It’s a slippery slope for sure but one that can be negotiated.

  • mocatz May 20, 2016, 8:38 pm

    OMG! I can’t imagine these felons amongst me having guns. I live in a really bad part of town. If these people could carry guns it would be a nightmare in the inner cities. I can look out my window right now and see racist gang members that are already shielded from law enforcement. The last thing we need is there 2a rights restored. I don’t know what kind of image you people have when you imagine a felon but I can assure you if you could come to my town & see, you would understand that felons with guns would cause a tremendous amount of death. Might as well live in Fallujah! Its crap like this that makes me have to build on my land before I can afford it. I just gotta get out of this place.

  • Mark From Bristol May 16, 2016, 11:09 pm

    Terry “The Punk” McAuliffe is and has been attached to the Clintons forever, and was installed as the governor of Virginia (Washington DC) for a reason, well ahead of the 2016 General (presidential) Election. Clinton says that if she takes over OUR white house oval office, she WILL write an illegal executive order allowing the suing of gun manufacturers out of business. Take the guns away of Americans, disarm us and there will be nothing or no one to stop One World Government. Clinton says that she will adopt Obama’s agenda and complete what he does not. Who can or will deny that Obama is about as anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment, anti-Constitution and therefore anti-American as they get. For his latest, I’m sure glad that I don’t have any underage daughters that have to use public or school bathrooms. Facts are are to fight. Terry “The Punk” McAuliffe was installed as the governor of Virginia well in advance for a reason, and illegally giving back his convicted felons the right to vote, serve on juries, and such are examples of what I’m saying.

  • Patrick May 16, 2016, 10:51 pm

    Convicted felons comprise a significant portion of the democrat base. Of course they want their voting rights restored.

  • alex May 15, 2016, 11:01 pm

    all this time this ass is in office and he waits till now to do this??? of course it all about keeping their lying,cheating asses in office, and getting the hildabeast in also.

  • Matt May 13, 2016, 11:04 pm

    The key to this argument is that a Virginia Gov. can restore felons rights within certain parameters on a case by case basis. He did this en mass which is completely illegal and completely politically motivated.

  • Matt May 13, 2016, 10:59 pm

    I am a Virginia resident and strongly protest the across the board restoration of voting and juror rights to at least certain felons. It may be harder to argue against restoration of non-violent felons but clearly violent felony convictions and felons should not be restored their voting rights, etc. **My cousin was shot to death in Richmond Virginia, he will never vote again and will never sit as a juror but his murderer will have that right. Is Gov. McAuliffe going to allow my cousins family to vote twice?? Is it right for a child molester to sit on a jury hearing a case of child rape?? In the end, this was politics at their most slimy. It was timed just right to give felons the ability to register to vote this fall while leaving little time for the legislature to take any timely action against this tyrannical Governor. By way of executive order he broke the law, completely disregarded the Virginia constitution and only to insure the potential for 206,000 additional democratic votes this presidential election. Politics at their lowest. What a scumbag McAuliffe is. He has been in lock step with Obama since taking office, completely anti gun, dropping Virginias reciprocity on CCW with other states also thru his anti-gun states attorney with no due process, later overturned.

  • Brent McLafferty May 13, 2016, 12:40 pm

    I think that non-violent felons should have their gun rights restored once their sentence has been served. People make mistakes, and they should not forfeit their right to self defense for the rest of their lives. I know this is a divisive topic, but I think that if people have served their time they should have their God given rights restored.

    • Harold Melton May 13, 2016, 3:58 pm

      I agree that ONLY non-violent felons should have the right to process a firearm, and ALL Felons should have their voting rights restored once they have completely their sentence, including parole. It isn’t no accident that the majority of Black felons who have lost their Voting Rights, even in 2016 the SCOTUS (the Republican Judges) have allowed Republican’s States to impede voting rights of non-whites.

  • Eric May 13, 2016, 11:22 am

    States cannot extra-judicially (without conviction and sentence) just removed constitutional rights
    YET this has gone on for decades.
    The only one who CAN limit constitutional rights (AS PART OF A SENTENCE) is a judge after a conviction.
    The Legislature CANNOT (at least not constitutionally).

    The FELON IN POSSESSION statute is unconstitutional facially due to burdening fundamental Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy.

    Criminal history “status” serving as a “factor” in determining a “sentence”
    after a conviction of an offence
    or
    criminal history “status” serving as an “aggravating” element of in a
    [recidivist] statute where at least one other element involves guilty conduct[actus reus]
    rather than merely a “status”
    . . . is quite different from . . .
    criminal history “status” to serve as the sole actus reus [guilty conduct]” element” of
    “conviction” at trial on the merits.
    That is, there is a distinct difference for an offense for which, absent the criminal history,
    there could be no meritorious conviction of the offence at trial based on the conduct.
    For the felon in possession statute, absent the “status” (criminal history) as an element,
    the remaining element describes the lawful exercise of a constitutionally protected right and
    “[w]here rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rulemaking or
    legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
    Conviction of a crime based solely upon “constitutionally protected exercise
    of a right” and “a past offense” is violative of Double Jeopardy (twice at risk).
    “The claim and exercise of a Constitution right cannot be converted into a crime”…
    “a denial of them would be a denial of due process of law”. Simmons v. United States,
    390 U.S. 377 (1968) . “There can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of
    his exercise of constitutional rights.” Sherar v. Cullen, 481 F. 2d 946 (1973).
    Allowing a present constitutional exercise of a right to serve as the substantive (guilty behavior)
    criminal “element” is unconstitutional as being multiple punishments for the past offense, that is,
    violative of Double Jeopardy. At most, a “status” element can represent no more than an
    aggravating element, not the substantive actus reus [guilty conduct] element.
    For an aggravated crime, there can be no conviction based on the aggravating elements alone.
    That is, there can be no conviction without some actus reus [ie. guilty conduct]”
    That this statute is unconstitutional does not mean there is no constitutional way to
    restrict felons from possessing firearms. Restrictions on fundamental rights may be imposed as
    sentencing (ie., via consensual parole agreement), but restrictions on fundamental rights may not
    be imposed by means of a prior restraint.
    If a court has imposed a sentence which includes a restriction on possession of firearms for a
    period of time, then an law enforcement, upon learning of that court ordered restriction could
    report a sentencing violation but to impose penalty for exercise of a fundamental right when no
    prior sentence has done so, constitutes sentencing absent an offence. And punishment outside of
    sentencing for a crime [guilty conduct] is facially unconstitutional.
    Could there be a “felon in use of speech” statute?
    If a statute denied exercise of speech (rather than possession of a firearm) because of a criminal
    history of being convicted of using “unlawful speech” (yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater),
    should that person be denied exercise of free speech for five or ten years after that
    conviction without any consensual agreement?
    In referring to Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962), Powell v. Texas, 392 U.S. 514, 533
    (1968) stated:
    “The entire thrust of Robinson’s interpretation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause is that criminal penalties may be inflicted only if the accused has committed some act, has engaged in some behavior, which society has an interest in preventing, or perhaps, in historical common law terms, has committed some actus reus [ie. guilty conduct]”
    and ‘ In Robinson, we distinguished between punishment for the “status” of addiction and punishment of an “act” ’
    Robinson declared it to be repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to
    provide for guilt based upon a “status”.
    Clearly, there is no guilty conduct (act) at issue in the “felon in possession” statute, rather the
    conduct (act) is constitutionally protected making punishment for the “act” facially
    unconstitutional, the mere existence of some certain type of conviction history being a “status”
    not a “sentence”.
    The felon in possession statute is; therefore, repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment.

  • Bisley May 13, 2016, 11:04 am

    A governor has no authority to do this on his own, but the state legislature does, and they should. Once someone is released from prison, and is supposedly fit to mingle with the public, there is no practical reason (or constitutional authority) to deprive them of any constitutionally guaranteed right. Former prisoners were not deprived of their rights in the past, and there is no justification for it now.

    Our criminal justice system has been turned into a welfare/full-employment program for lawyers, and no longer has anything to do with punishment of criminals or protection of the public. People who constitute a danger to the public should either be hanged, or never released — those who have done their time should be left alone, and treated the same as anyone else.

    • Eric May 13, 2016, 11:54 am

      RE: “A governor has no authority to do this on his own, but the state legislature does,”
      Agreed(mostly), that is, when it comes to restoring rights by way of reducing sentences for crimes.
      Although the governor can do this by “pardon” he cannot restore rights piecemeal or apply a pardon en mass.

      The more major point is that neither the legislature nor a governor can REMOVE constitutional rights (like 2dA).
      The legislature can cause that indirectly by specifying that (remove right) as PART OF A SENTENCE for a crime
      but without that (removal of constitutional rights) being part of a sentence (eg., probation stipulations)
      NO ONE can constitutionally remove that right, not even the judiciary(judge).
      See my fuller comment here.

      • Bisley May 13, 2016, 8:14 pm

        Of course, they had no legitimate authority to revoke these rights, but they’ve done it anyway, and our courts are too corrupt and politicized to stop them. Unless the legislature undoes it, it will stand. I would dispute their authority to include such a revocation of rights as part of a sentence — as a condition of a limited term of probation or parole, maybe, but not permanently.

  • The SGM May 13, 2016, 10:56 am

    Feel Good legislation ahs no place when it comes to allowing persons to own and carry weapons. A felony is a felony. If the crime did not reach the level warranting the forfeiture of the ‘right’ then the individual should have been charged with a lesser charge. A felony is a felony – do not lower standards – period.

  • BJG May 13, 2016, 10:25 am

    Just another way for democrats to get more votes. If a non violent person gets his right to vote back, then he should be given his right to own a firearm. But that would be against all democrats ideals. Typical, democrat way or no way.

  • R B May 13, 2016, 9:30 am

    If you believe that a person who is a convicted felon serves his time and is released from prison, and that he has made amends for his crimes and that he should have his rights restored upon release, then I suppose that this might make sense. I’m not so sure. For example in the case of child molesters, generally criminals with that type of intentions usually aren’t magically cured by jail time and will almost always commit that sort of crime again. So it’s not a cut and dry situation of whether felons are ever truly rehabilitated. In many cases they might be, but often times they aren’t and will repeat their crimes once released. But that’s not what’s being considered here.
    What the governor suggests is that upon release, felons should have their rights as citizens restored, or at least the rights that he picks and chooses. This is where is don’t agree. It appears that this Democrat governor is afflicted with the same disease as Obama, and that is picking and choosing which parts of a law he wants to enforce.
    It appears that the governor only wants to restore the rights of felons if it benefits him and his Democrat party. If a convicted felon has truly made his amends by serving his time for past crimes and is to be restored to full citizen status, then that should include ALL of the benefits of US citizenship, not just the ones that this Obama clone picks and chooses as appropriate.

  • Larry May 13, 2016, 9:26 am

    I wonder if Terry, the Punk, will curry enough favor from Hillary, the Evil, to be chosen as her running mate. That would amount to one hell of a nasty piece of dirt & bile pair.
    Hey you folks in Virginia, quit voting for people with “D”s behind their names & you won;t have nearly the problems that you seem to keep getting by voting for these un-American dirt bags.

    • Butch May 13, 2016, 10:46 am

      Larry, If we could get rid of Northern Virginia scum, we would have a Republican governor now!!

  • lw May 13, 2016, 8:49 am

    I’ve changed my thinking quite a bit on this issue. I think this goes back to the original purpose for prison. When a person had completed his time in prison, he was said to have “paid his debt to society,” and all rights and privileges were restored. This notion of perpetual punishment is a relatively new, and bad, idea.

    If they commit another crime, by all means, throw them back in prison. But if they’re not in prison, they should have all the rights and privileges that every other citizen has.

    Part of my reason for a change of thinking is I can see a time coming when Christian ideas and beliefs will be outlawed and the people who remain faithful to God will be imprisoned. Christianity is already very much hated and booed by the dimmos at their national political conventions. I’ll want the ability to defend myself again when and if I’m released.

  • Birks May 13, 2016, 8:38 am

    Well what would you expect from an old time Clinton crony. It’s a matter of one crook easing punishment for a plethora of crooks, plain and simple. And all you freaking democrats will never learn….. No wonder these rat bastards consider the voting public brain dead with only a 2 week retention capacity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lon May 13, 2016, 7:02 am

    If someone has served their sentance and been released they are entitled to same rights as the rest of us. Any other way and they are continuing to be “punished”. If a violent felon is so dangerous that they cannot be trusted with a gun (they can and will get them illegally) then why are they not sentanced to life? Pick one, are they safe among the population, or are they not? If they are not, keep them behind bars. Denying them legal gun ownership does not make them less of a threat to us.

    • Birks May 13, 2016, 8:45 am

      some things you just can’t erase and should be hounded till your dying days.

      If dishonorably discharged , you can not hold public office ever…. And you know if you raised cash for the Clinton’s you are dirty as they come. Let’s not forget the white Bill Cosby that occupied the White House for 8 years, and practically looted it when they left. A tad off topic but every time their names are mentioned all I think of is Pond Scum

  • Jay May 13, 2016, 6:49 am

    Although I agree that a person convicted, did their time, has proven for a period of time, say 10 years has become a useful and productive member of society again should have their rights restored, the governors way is not the way to go about it! What we have here is nothing more than a democratic way to find more of a voter database, they have convinced the gay’s the transgenders, the illegals now they are wanting more to add to vote democratic, anything to stay in power and bring down the USA! When you have to stir up votes from the bottom of the barrel that really says and portrays their real message and goals!

  • Russ May 13, 2016, 6:09 am

    Believe it or not, there thousands of people out there that made a mistake in their youth, serves their time, and have led a responsible life ever since; some for 30-40 yrs. It is patently unfair, and I see nothing in the constitution that allow lifetime punishment for mistakes, because that is what it is. They may have only had to serve 3-5 yrs, but society have condemned that they be punished for the rest of their life for one mistake. If it was a non-violent crime, then YES they should be allowed their rights back. Otherwise, what’s the point? God forgives, why can’t we?

  • Bruce B May 10, 2016, 6:07 pm

    Either all of your rights as a citizen are restored or none are restored. By whatever criteria you wish to judge, you are either good to go or you remain restricted. No half-assed citizenry…

  • SuperG May 10, 2016, 11:29 am

    You break the law, get caught, get sentenced, serve your time, and your debt is paid. That is how it works. There should exist a legal instrument to restore your lost rights. I’d say that if you’ve led an upstanding life since your conviction, and have had no future arrests, for a period of 10 years, then you should be allowed to petition for the restoration of all your rights.
    What this governor is doing is insane, and I believe it is indeed to benefit Hillary.

    • oldfuzz695 May 13, 2016, 7:33 am

      This joke of a Governor would kiss Hil-liar-y’s……”brown ring” in front of the courthouse with 1000 gawkers!

  • Patrik Gustafsson May 10, 2016, 1:47 am

    theres a median way also.

    lets say a non-violent felon has served his time and debt to society, why shouldnt he/she have all his/hers rights restored?
    restoring the 2nd am rights is abit of a pickle though but why not after served debt to society have a 3-5y probation period on restoring that right.
    almost all who fall back into criminality does so within 1-2years with a small portion doing it between 2-3years

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