As a gun person, I can’t imagine losing my gun rights. While for some, it’s a bit of a non-issue since they don’t care anything about firearms in the first place, for many of us, it’s a big part of who we are as Americans. Losing them would be a horror.
Yet, some who lose their gun rights do eventually have them restored.
For one Virginia man, it’s clear that he didn’t wait long after having his rights restored to purchase a firearm. How do we know this? Because it wasn’t long before he ran afoul of one of the state’s latest gun control laws.
A Chesterfield County man who had his gun rights restored in June has been convicted of leaving a loaded firearm near his young son, who accidentally shot himself in the hand, in one of the first cases to be prosecuted under a new Virginia law that boosts the penalty for “recklessly” leaving guns near children.
Radell J. Bolden, 36, was found guilty in Chesterfield General District Court and was sentenced to 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended. Bolden also was ordered to complete 24 hours of community service, forfeit his gun and complete a firearm safety class.
The Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office withdrew an accompanying charge against Bolden of possessing a firearm after being convicted of a nonviolent felony. The charge was dropped after prosecutors learned that Bolden had been pardoned by Gov. Ralph Northam on June 25 and had his gun rights restored. The shooting incident involving his son occurred less than a month later, on July 20.
That’s less than a month.
So what precisely happened? Well, something that could have happened to plenty of folks.
According to a summary of evidence presented in court by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney LaToya Croxton, Bolden told authorities he had recently visited a shooting range and was in his bedroom cleaning his firearm. While doing so, Bolden said he had to use the bathroom.
He then went into the bathroom, which was attached to the bedroom, and left his handgun lying on a dresser. Bolden said his 8-year-old son was not in the bedroom at the time. A short time later, Bolden said he heard a gunshot and that when he went back into the bedroom, he found his son suffering from a gunshot wound to his hand. The child’s injury was not life-threatening.
Honestly, that’s something that could have happened to any number of us.
Oh, we can Monday morning quarterback this all day long. We could say that Bolden should have locked the door. We could say he should have broken down the weapon before leaving the room. We could say all kinds of things we would have done differently.
He didn’t, and now he’s being punished for it.
Luckily, while it seems that Bolden will have to forfeit the gun, he isn’t forfeiting his Second Amendment rights again. Based on this report, it sounds like he’s still able to own firearms, otherwise, why bother making him take a gun safety class?
That doesn’t make this law good. While this story could have been an absolute tragedy, the truth is that it’s only with firearms that parents are held responsible for momentary lapses in their attention. It’s an inconsistency that is part of why gun rights are second class rights.