Can you ever pay off your crime?

20 Aug

Spent some time this weekend thinking about a conversation I had concerning a topic from last week about the mandatory jail time for felons who use firearms in another crime or simply illegally carry after their first release.

This post may be a little more philosophical than others but I think its some good food for thought.

Instead of using specific examples of varying crimes I am going to pose the query as such: Should a convicted felon ever be allowed to regain all their rights?  This of course includes the right to keep and bear arms.

In my youth I was a bit more of a hard tack when it came to this notion.  I believed that if you committed a crime you should be punished and that you are no longer a citizen in regards to the Constitution.  You have broken the social contract intrinsic to being a citizen and as such would be rightfully denied the full spectrum of the rights therein.  

Perhaps as my libertarian ways have taken a more firm hold I have come to see things a bit differently.  Or perhaps I have become more of a hard tack when it comes to criminals but my views have moved…oddly enough in both directions.

I once believed, as I said that, that criminals should lose their rights because they have proven that they cannot be law abiding citizens.  But if they cannot be trusted with the rights of a citizen than why are they out of prison?  This is where the duality of my thought comes in.  I’m in favor of HARD time (more so than when I was younger).  The kind in which you do not get out of for good behavior or copping a plea or getting some bleeding heart justice to think you had it rough so he’s willing to excuse the armed robbery, assault and vehicular manslaughter charge while you were coked up.  

BUT, if you serve your time, and are released back into society, if you cannot be trusted to act accordingly with the full rights of a citizen then what the hell are they doing on the streets?!?!

So, do I think we should eliminate probation and parole? No, one should always be wary of absolutes like zero tolerance policies.  Though, if you want to withhold certain rights during that time then that’s fine because the convict is still serving his time.  But should someone, who has served his time, made whatever amends the state has asked of him be released into society and still denied the rights that everyone else has?

To focus on the Second Amendment directly…if we take the assumption that a convicted criminal is no longer part of the People, at what point, if ever, are they again counted among the People?  And if they are once again part of the People, what right does the state have to infringe upon their Second Amendment right?


Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


24 responses to “Can you ever pay off your crime?

  1. Roy Gaston

    August 20, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I worked in a prison for 20 years. There were some that were in there for some minor petty stuff, non-violent, and I think after a period of a few years, no trouble, no arrests, successfully completes parole, then I don’t have a problem with it, them being allowed to have guns. However, I have also seen some very violent men, rapists, murderers, armed robbers, get released also. The fact is, if these violent criminals want a gun, they are not going to a legit gun store anyway. Buying guns on the street is as easy as buying a pack of bubble gum at Speedway. And, repeat offenders, no, never. If they didn’t learn their lesson first time through prison, then sorry about their luck.

  2. Steven

    August 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Criminals who commit crimes with a gun should be dealt with with the full strength of the law. It’s these people that give the no gunners the ammo they’re looking for to take away my gun…the law abiding citizen that only wants to protect his family and friends. These are the people that have managed to put a stop to open carry in almost all of the states. I’m a true believer in open carry. Study after study has shown that open carry deters crime!

  3. matthew

    August 20, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Good read.

  4. guy

    August 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I think that when the time is done ,you should get all your rights back!some of the crimes called felonies these days are very minor and not violent.and committing a non violent crime has always benefited the top 1 % of wall street.they still have guns.
    so in my opinion there should be no loss of the second amendment if your crime is of a non violent nature.
    there are more police men and woman committing crimes these days than ever before,and yes they carry every day.
    i know this post will offend some people,and im truly sorry for this.
    but new laws are made everyday without the consent of the people.
    our freedoms are being trampled on,and our rights ,they have been gone for sometime.

    • Michael Undercofler

      August 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Well said guy. I am a firm beliver that the punishment should fit the crime.

      • Roy Gaston

        August 21, 2012 at 6:52 am

        So, everyone, including the serial rapists, murders, kidnappers, everyone? and you wouldn’t mind if they lived across the street from you?

  5. Nathan

    August 20, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I think that it would be better to go one of two ways. Either the law should prevent only those who have been convicted of felonies involving a firearm or only people who have been convicted of two or more felonies from owning firearms. Either one would target more those who have proven that they cannot be trusted to use a firearm in a lawful or responsible manner.

  6. Josh

    August 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Allowing the State to infringe upon property rights is a slippery slope and permits them to perpetuate the deception that the property is the safety threat rather than the individual. The State uses a social pariah – gun owners, sex offenders – to seriously erode the liberty of all by claiming that constitutional liberties can be denied indefinitely – even for non-violent crimes.

    During sentencing, the court SHOULD be asking if the person is suitable to exercise ALL rights upon release – assuming we will be “safe” because of a bracelet, living location restrictions or restrictions on property ownership is a total farce. Released felons are, nearly without exception, forced to live in the poorest, most dangerous places. Is the State entitled to deny them the ability to defend themselves when they are likely to need to exercise this right?

    • Roy Gaston

      August 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Well, you guys have certainly gibing me a lot to think about, specifally the slippery slope issue and the 2nd Amendment, and non-violent crimes. I had said they should after a few years wait, but, who ever said, probably a couple people, that they have served their time, and are now citizens and should have the right to bare arms. I’ll agree to that. However, I habe seen guys who committed serial rapes at gun point a guy with four separate murder, they were plotted and planned. He’s pretty much an old man now, and I have seen many violent inmates get released, and they used cuns in their crimes. I believe when they did that, they lose their Constitution rights on the 2nd Amendment, They had the right, and abused it, therefore I strongly vote no on the violent crimes with a gun. I mean, would you want a serial rapist who used a gun, living next to you with a gun. And as for the gentleman who said all ex-inmates have to move to the worst neigherboods, and take minimum wage jobs, and then have to get back in to slinging dope to survive. That’s simply not true. If they have absolutely no family, or friends that haven’t been convicted, then yeah, they go to halfway houses and even honeless shelters. But a lot of these guys are very slick. Not only do they make sure they get paroled to their aunt that has a real nice home in a real nice neighbood. Also, you would not belief the number of inmates who get pen pals with (usually very unattractive
      women ) but has fallen for his story that he is actually innocent and these guys make sure their pen pals have pretty good money coming in, and they get paroled to her. There are so many hustles in there it’s unbelieveable to someone unfamiliar with it. But I got waaaay of topic. non-violent, I’m fine with them having guns. Those that used guns, no, absolutely not. They had the right and they violated it.

      • guy

        August 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

        i agree 100%, if its a violent crime,then there is no way they should be able to carry a weapon of any kind.

  7. Josh

    August 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I should also add that for at least one-third of Americans (93+ million) who live in the most populous anti-gun states, the sole act of property ownership (gun or ammunition possession), even for one with a completely clean record, is a disqualifying “crime”.

    There, the laws are remarkably effective at singling out pariah demographics and relieving the non-violent, non-criminals of their rights – permanently (try getting an expungement for a gun crime in NY/NJ/CA/IL — good luck).

  8. Josh

    August 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Not to blather on, but case in point:

    In NY, “pro-gun” politicians rail against more gun laws by advocating harsher punishment of property ownership. The key word to look for is “illegal gun”. In a free society there is no such thing as an “illegal” object – only one that is used as an implement to deprive others of their fundamental rights. It is the deprivation, not property ownership, that should be the focus of the legislature and the courts.

  9. Randy Betts

    August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I have sent some time in prison. To take away a americans rights forever just to make the public feel better, dosen’t make them any safer. Back around the turn of the century I (like millions of others) had a little taste for drugs. I had went to a fairly nice part of town to meet a man for the first time I showed him my cash and reached out to taste the stuff when I found myself staring down the barrel of a .25 caliber. The young man struck me and grabbed my money and started to run.
    I was raised by my father who was born in the 20’s and surely would not approved of what I was doing there. He did raise me with a good sense of right and wrong though. He also raised me with a respect for firearms of all types. I recived my first one, a 20 gauge Mossburg pump, when i was 8 years old. I hunted from that time to this day. For 8 years I was a collection agent in some of the worse neighborhoods around. I carried a pistol with me everyday and never once came to a point where I had to use it.
    when this young man turned and raised his little pistol towords me I instinctivly drawed, and shot him. He went down like a whitetail hit by a fifty cal. I could have been walking out of a bank or into a store and faced a simmiler situation and would have been in no trouble. Because I was doing something I shouldnt I am forever branded a”felon” without the same rights as other citizens. I could have let the kid shoot me,he was already across the street when he turned and pulled his gun, what, because I could identify him?
    I live with that descion every day. The operative word is live. We both lived, he got probtion, I got 6 years. I still have my illegl long guns to hunt with. in 2007 i was arrestted for “possesing” them in my closet. Today, because of those 2 charges, I am considered
    a ‘armed habitual crimminal” that faces 30 years for possessing so much as a single .22 rimfire bullet.
    My 20 gauge Mossburg sits in my closet and I haven’t fired it in 5 years. It will sit there most likley till hell freezes over 1
    Just because one makes a poor decison 16 years ago that endangered his own life doesn’t mean the Goverment should be able to put a man away for what amounts to life (at my age now) for posseing a gun in his own home

  10. nate

    August 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I think this is where probation and parol comes into play. but I am an extremist. I think anyone who is not capable of comple rehabilitation in 5 years or less should be executed. Criminals should not be housed fed and cared for at the expense of those who work to follow the law. No TV, no weight rooms, no degrees, nothing easy or fun. Go Sheriff Joe. After rehab in a prison, (which should include work I.E. farming, road crew, something, anything), probation officers should be tasked to make sure of the re-integration into the comunity including all rights to be instated. Those probation / parol officers have to determin what will be acceptable and what will not on an individual basis. This is a tough call in all but really it has to become an individual basis. Who is capable of controling themself and who is not.

  11. john doe

    August 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I think people that have payed there debt to society should be able to keep a bare arms. That right does not come from the state or the gov. There are people who was caught with a joint in 1972 and got a felony and have never got in any trouble since why should they not have that birth right (the 2nd amendment ) there are so many non violent grimes that can be a felony such as riding a wheelie on a motorcycle for the 3rd offense in some states . In the past you can see were in some states when you were released from prison the state would give you a horse, a silver dollar,and a pistol. I think the gov and the state needs to realize that the 2nd amendment was written by us we the people for them to fallow not vis versa. They should not be able to infringe and right. Freedom is not free you first must buy a license or permit LOL

  12. Steven

    August 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I agree that people who have payed there debt to society should be able to keep and bare arms.
    Also they should have all their rights to vote restored in order to repeal the unconstitutional laws that have put so many behind bars for victimless crimes.

  13. Dave

    August 21, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Once you complete you sentence you should have a clean slate with all rights restored. Just another way to disarm the people.

  14. Roy Gaston

    August 21, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I should have included the above answer. yes, there are very many people in for petty, non-violent crimes, many of them crimes that were only made into crime to protect the property and possessions of the very wealthy. If you haven’t read my above post, the very first one, I did work in a prison for 20 years. The posts from the writers above convinced me I was wrong, and the petty non-violent offenders should have their full rights returned, including the right to bear arms. However, those violent criminals that used guns should never be allowed to. In my opinion, many should simply never get out of prison, but that is rarely the case that an offender gets life, with never a chance to go home. non-violent sex offenders should never have their rights restored, and many of them, due to plea bargains, only have to serve 2 to 3 years, usually when the child victim is considered too young to testify, or the prosecutor doesn’t want to risk a jury trial. Anyway, the above contributors changed my mind on the non-violent petty crimes, and I think these ridiculous dryg laws should be eliminated, but I digress. I had one inmate that I thought of last night. He was convicted and sentenced to five years, because he had one, maybe two, prior shoplifting cases. I talked to him him quite often as he was the inmate that cleaned my office and various other duties for me. He got those five years for stealing $8 worth of food from a grocery. His priors, one or two, I think in Ohio, a second shoplifting automatically becomes a felony. Anyway, I read his file to see if he was being truthful. Each conviction was for food. He did have a wife and child, worked construction but the work was very sporadic for this company, so he often had little or no income. Perhaps, if given his full rights back, he could learn to hunt, and provide food for his family that way. So, yes, I hadn’t given it as much thought as I should have before reading the above posts, my mind went directly to the worst of the worst criminals, and after giving it thought, yes, the petty, non-violent offenders should get the ability to own weapons restored.

  15. Michael

    August 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    After a felon has served their sentence they can petition the court to have their gun ownership and voting rights restored. The laws vary state to state on how this works.

    I think there should be a partial restoration middle ground where someone could own single shot or double rifles and shotguns, but not anything that holds more than 2 rounds and no handguns.

  16. ::G

    August 29, 2012 at 8:45 am

    My viewpoint that if a person is released from prison, he should regain his rights has proved to be quite unpopular. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks this way!

    The point was made that guns don’t have to be bought from a dealer: they can be stolen or bought on the street (typically illegally imported or stolen). By releasing a prisoner, the “authorities” have the obligation to society to be reasonably sure that the person doesn’t pose a threat. If they’re not a threat, why put their lives at risk by not allowing them the means to protect themselves? And if they are a threat, why release them?

    It’s pretty pathetic that computer hacking is a felony these days. Apparently the government solution is to lower the bar on felonies so as to disenfranchise people from their rights.

  17. Nate

    August 29, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I guess I am still wondering why all of the politicians who have sex and drug and felony convictions still have thier right to carry and the “public service” retirement/ career/ benefits/ etc etc

  18. Kleo

    December 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    My viewpoint that if a person is released from prison, he should regain his rights has proved to be quite unpopular. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks this way!

    • Tony Oliva

      December 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      It’s easy for people to have the knee jerk reaction that if you commit a crime you should pay forever. For some crimes that is actually true. But if you do your time, then you should be able to get your rights back. Or else our penal system is a lie and rehabilitation a pipe dream the government blows in our faces to justify early releases and cost saving measures for overcrowding and the like.

  19. wb

    January 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    listen to all these holy rollers here. man, what would Jesus think about the harsh way you people like to kick someone when they are down? most people break a law or two almost every day. did you speed on your way to work? did you cheat on your taxes by taking a deduction you weren’t entitled to? did you keep something that belonged to someone else? did you drive home from a bar after a night of drinking? what sets the criminal apart from the rest of us is that they got caught. for every one person in prison there are five who should be. so let’s all cut out the crap. better yet, since you people are the kind who need to feel superior than others then why not just kill everyone we send to prison. after all, you sanctimoneous bastards sure don’t want them coming back into society to feed their kids. i mean, why else tell felons they need not apply for the job? as soon as they put that on their resume you know damn well you toss the app in the trash. you people need to be able to feel superior. after all, more than 50 per cent of people admit they have cheated on their spouse, or been drunk behind the wheel, or smoked dope. so please, spare me your reasons. you simply like having someone to step on and the felon serves this purpose. i think everyone should own a gun if they want. first off, criminals will get guns no matter what. what we have created in our desire to keep them down is a police state that will someday soon be used to take your rights as well. when you hear politicians talking about passing a law to protect the children you should run in the other direction because one more of your vanishing freedoms is about to go up in smoke. so be careful who you condemn and why, one day that person could wind up being you.


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