Should felons get their rights, including their right to keep and bear arms, have an easier time getting their rights restored? That’s the question up for debate in Florida right now where a bill seeks to streamline the process for a convicted felon to get their voting and Second Amendment rights restored.
The bill, HB 903, was filed on Dec. 6 by State Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Neptune Beach) would allow judges to restore the rights of felons after they’ve completed prison sentences and probation.
Florida currently prohibits convicted felons from owning firearms or voting.
“Currently, the average wait time for Restoration of Rights is over 9 years, with some as long as 11 years,” Byrd wrote in a Facebook post. “Over 22,000 applications are pending, with only a few hundred being processed each year. Clearly the system is broken.”
A couple of points need to be made.
First, the headline for this story reads, “New Bill Would Allow Florida Felons to Own Guns.” Nothing about their voting rights, which are also in the mix.
Sounds like someone’s trying to scare the people of Florida.
Second, let’s get into the meat of the issue. Should convicted felons have an easier path to getting their rights restored? Obviously, this is a controversial subject. People don’t want felons carrying guns or voting or anything like that. I get it.
But I can’t help but think of how people who have gotten out of prison are said to have paid their debts to society. But they haven’t. Not really. We keep punishing them over and over by denying them rights we demand for ourselves.
When it comes to the restoration of rights, it’s not something someone can get the moment they step out of prison. According to the paperwork from the state of Florida cites five to seven years of a clean record. In other words, they’re people who have kept their noses clean and aren’t likely to become recidivists.
In fact, the process has been in place for quite some time. Most of us don’t hear about it because so many felons repeat their crimes and become ineligible.
However, sometimes, prison actually works and people learn the error of their ways. Maybe their crime was just a bad mistake, maybe it was youthful stupidity. Who knows? Who cares?
What does matter is that if they’re not a threat anymore, there’s no reason to bar them from their right to keep and bear arms. None.
If they’re a threat to society, then they probably should have remained in prison. If they’re not, and they’ve shown they’re not going to revert to their previous ways, then why do we continue to punish them? Shouldn’t they be able to regain their sacred rights?
Let’s be clear, as I’ve noted before, those who are likely to continue acting like criminals will not last the five to seven years required. Those that do are unlikely to revert.
Maybe this is personal to me. I had a family member screw up and become convicted of a felony. Years later, they got their rights restored after walking the straight and narrow. After that, the only close encounter they had with the police was a traffic accident as they got older when they rear-ended the chief of police.
I seriously doubt this person was alone.
Why shouldn’t the reformed individual not have access to the most efficient self-defense tools possible?