They did it: President Donald Trump and a Republican majority in the Senate managed to install three – count ‘em, three – Supreme Court justices in a single four-year term. Conservative and libertarian folks who longed for a Court majority that would defend life and liberty as the Founders did rejoiced – for a while.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear three – count ‘em, three – cases that challenged the life-long infringement of the right to keep and bear arms for folks convicted of nonviolent crimes. So many had hoped the new Supreme Court would tackle the oft-infringed right to bear arms. So far, they have hoped in vain, as SCOTUS still flees from the fight for freedom.
In 1987, Ken Flick was convicted of criminal copyright violation and smuggling counterfeit cassette tapes. He lost his right to keep and bear arms, despite having never committed a crime of violence, never mind one using a gun. He is one of three Americans in similar situations who hoped the Supreme Court would return to him his fundamental human right to adequate self-defense. Still, he is oppressed – after nearly 35 years.
Raymond Holloway pleaded guilty to driving under the influence back in 2005 and lost his rights – over a misdemeanor charge that itself is now old enough to get a driver’s license. Lisa Folajtar lost her right to keep and bear arms for a single count of making a false statement on her tax returns in 2011.
Whether felons have the right to bear arms is one of the more controversial topics in the Second Amendment v. gun control debate today. Often, those who think convicts should be prohibited persons argue that allowing violent criminals to own firearms is just asking for more violence. If that were a valid argument, it would also justify universal background checks, longer waiting periods, and other measures aimed at preventing people from certain groups from owning firearms – whether the person making that argument for one case agrees with all the others or not. It also ignores the fact that those willing to commit acts of criminal violence wouldn’t balk at breaking a gun law as well.
Here’s a hypothetical situation that’s all too real for many Americans:
A guy commits a crime and is convicted of a felony. That man does his time and goes on with his life. He stays out of trouble the whole time – which isn’t easy, considering that now, as a convicted felon, there are crimes for him that aren’t crimes for those without a record. He overcomes the stigma of his criminal past to find housing, even though many won’t rent to felons. He finds a good enough job to pay his way, from fines and fees to increased living expenses due to the restricted housing options – even though most jobs that pay a decent wage require successfully passing a criminal background check. Except for his limited rights, he moves on with his life, even settling down and starting a family.
Does this man have the right to defend himself, his wife, and his children – or is he obligated to allow a home invader or violent criminal to attack him and his family? What of his family, who never met the criminal version of him? Are they obliged to live without adequate protection because of his past misbehavior?
Make no mistake: Suppressing the right to keep and bear arms suppresses the right to adequate defense of self, family, and home.
The Declaration of Independence states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness …”
Because the rights to life and liberty mean nothing without the right to defend both, the Second Amendment states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
The Founders, most of whom were technically criminals before the Crown declared them all traitors in open rebellion, did not make any allowance for the federal government to permanently disarm anyone for any reason. And it should be noted, as Liberty Nation reader Jim from Arizona recently pointed out, the Second Amendment defends the right to keep and bear arms, not guns. That means, of course, that it protects the ownership of all weapons – whether club, sword, musket, revolver, semi-automatic AR-15, M60 machine gun, M777 155mm Howitzer, or whatever technological advances make possible – so that the “first freedom” scales up with the potential for tyranny.
It wasn’t until the National Firearms Act of 1934 – 145 years after the Constitution and Bill of Rights went into effect, and many years after the last of the Founders had died – that violent criminals were stripped of their rights. It wasn’t until the Gun Control Act of 1968 that all felons, regardless of the nature of their crime, lost the right to keep and bear arms. That’s 179 years after the founding, and 34 years after the first federal gun control law was passed using the Commerce Clause as justification. Even then, there wasn’t a background check system in place to make this restriction practical until the 1990s – two centuries after the Founders had passed on and could no longer defend their vision of liberty.
The problem with establishing groups of prohibited people is that it creates a class considered somehow less than human, as the Founders made it clear they believed the unalienable, God-given right to defend life and liberty applied to all.
Flick, Holloway, and Folajtar, however, are not violent criminals. Driving under the influence is stupid, dangerous, and could very well result in the loss of life. However, it would be difficult to convince a reasonable person that the man drunkenly got in his vehicle and took off with the intent to do violence should the opportunity arise. The other two, however, are guilty of crimes that millions of Americans also share guilt in, often without even acknowledging that it’s wrong. Would those who argue for felons to be permanently stripped of the right to keep and bear arms not allow these three exceptions?
What do you call someone who has ever lied on any form or pirated software, music, or movies by downloading illegally or ripping CDs and DVDs – or even copying from one cassette to another – who says the convicted felons Folajtar and Flick shouldn’t have their rights returned?
Here’s a hint: It begins with the letter “h” and ends with “ypocrite.”
Read more from James Fite.