I’ll admit that I have a special place in my heart for a certain kind of convicted felon. Those who cheat on their taxes are criminals, sure, but I kind of understand the motivation. The idea that I should give the government as much of my money as possible just hasn’t set well with me since I was a small child, so I get it. I can sympathize with that far more than I can accept most other criminals.
Now, though, it seems one wants her Second Amendment rights back and argues that nonviolent offenders shouldn’t be disarmed.
A lawyer for a woman trying to regain gun rights she lost after lying on her tax returns, a felony, gave the Third Circuit some ironic food for thought at oral arguments Tuesday.
“The founding fathers refused to pay a tax, and they did not believe that failure to pay a tax took away the right to bear arms,” said Joshua Prince, an attorney with the Civil Rights Defense Firm. “In fact they took up arms.”
Prince’s client Lisa Folajtar filed suit last year after she learned that she lost her gun rights in perpetuity because she pleaded guilty in 2011 to making false statements on her tax returns. Since lying to the government is a felony, the conviction carries additional gun restrictions beyond her sentence of probation and a $10,000 fine.
Folajtar seeks a gun for self-defense and is fighting for a reversal after a federal judge upheld the government’s felony restrictions on gun ownership.
“Yes, it’s a felony but it’s not violent,” said Prince, her Bechtelsville-based attorney. “Is this a valid basis for stripping someone of their constitutional right?”
I know, I know. I literally just wrote a post all about how we need to enforce the laws on the book in an effort to keep felons from being armed and now I’m talking about this. That said, Folajtar makes a point that I think needs to be discussed.
In particular, do nonviolent offenders such as herself warrant being kept disarmed as though they’re convicted killers? Probably not.
While some nonviolent offenders aren’t really nonviolent–they just weren’t convicted of violence. Al Capone was only convicted of tax fraud, after all–many more would never hurt a fly. Is there a valid reason to deny them such a fundamental right as the right to keep and bear arms?
The flip side a felony is a felony and if we open the door there, what will follow? I’ve been covering politics for too long not to think there will be unintended consequences. That’s something we would need to consider as well.
I’m sure the “all gun laws are unconstitutional crowd” will probably agree that Folajtar should get her gun rights back. At least, I figure that since I tend to agree with that crowd overall and I don’t see why she should be disarmed, they’d feel the same way.
Then again, maybe that doesn’t apply to felons.
Either way, this is a discussion I think is worth having within the Second Amendment community. Do we accept nonviolent offenders as being no threat to the public and allow them to maintain their rights, or do we treat all felons the same?
What do you think?