Joe Exotic is still behind bars this morning. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are still facing charges here in the United States. Lil Wayne, on the other hand, no longer has the prospect of a ten-year federal prison sentence hanging over his head after Donald Trump issued the rapper a pardon in one of his last official acts as president.
“President Trump granted a full pardon to Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., also known as ‘Lil Wayne,’” read a statement from The White House.
“Mr. Carter pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, owing to a conviction over 10 years ago,” the statement read.
The White House cited athlete Deion Sanders, who wrote in support of Lil’ Wayne’s pardon.
Sanders called the rapper “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, a game changer.”
The “Lollipop’’ rapper pleaded guilty in Florida last month to a felony gun charge after authorities, acting on a tip, found a loaded .45-caliber pistol in a bag on his private plane after it landed at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in December 2019.
As I pointed out last month when I argued in favor of a pardon, Wayne lost his right to keep and bear arms thanks to a felony conviction out of New York City more than a decade ago.
Dwayne Carter has a felony record because he pled guilty back in 2009 to possessing a gun without a license in New York City. Two years earlier, after Lil Wayne’s first headlining concert in New York, police searched his tour bus after claiming to have smelled marijuana. Inside, they found a .40 caliber handgun that they eventually connected via DNA to Carter.
There was no charge connected to a crime of violence; just a simple non-violent possessory offense, but this was in the middle of Michael Bloomberg’s time as mayor, when the number of stops-and-frisks were soaring into the hundreds of thousands and dubious searches like this were taking place on a daily basis, in the name of “gun safety.” Carter ended up serving eight months in Riker’s Island for something that isn’t even a crime in many states, and is a misdemeanor in many others. Beyond his incarceration, Carter also lost his right to keep and bear arms for the rest of his life, all thanks to New York City’s gun control laws that treat the Second Amendment as a second class right.
Lil Wayne’s pardon may not remove the felony conviction from a decade ago, but this was still the right move for the president to make. In my opinion, the rapper should never have faced charges in New York City to begin with, but unfortunately the city has not yet been forced by the courts to recognize that the Second Amendment isn’t a second-class right.