Arkansas bill would restore gun rights to non-violent felons

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One shouldn’t be able to lose one’s rights without due process of law. That’s why felons are prohibited from voting and owning firearms. They’ve lost those rights, but not before due process.


However, let’s also be real, we’ve got way too many things considered felonies in this day and age.

Some are for good reason, including violent felonies but also some non-violent ones.

Yet, the question is, should non-violent felons be without their Second Amendment rights? After all, they were never a threat to harm anyone, so why should they be denied a fundamental right?

In Arkansas, they seem to be asking the same question, and a bill seeks to change that status quo.

A bill intended to restore firearm rights to people with certain nonviolent felony convictions failed in a tight roll call vote in a House panel after more than two hours of discussion Tuesday.

House Bill 1013, sponsored by Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, saw support and opposition from members of both parties in the House Committee on Judiciary in a 9-7 vote. To pass, the bill needed the support of the majority, or at least 11 members, of the committee.

Several supporters testified the bill was needed to allow first-time offenders who received nonviolent felony convictions years ago to petition for the right to carry firearms for hunting or self-defense. Currently, people with felonies who wish to carry firearms must receive a pardon from the governor, which some supporters of the bill testified was difficult to obtain.

Opponents, including officials with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office and the state Department of Public Safety, raised several concerns, including how the bill might create an additional route in state law for people with felonies to have their convictions sealed and conflict with the governor’s constitutional power to grant pardons.

The bill would allow a person convicted of certain nonviolent felonies to file a petition in court no earlier than 10 years after the completion of their sentence to have their conviction “discharged, dismissed, and sealed.” Flowers said the bill required felony convictions to be “discharged, dismissed and sealed” so a person could possess firearms without violating federal law.


Honestly, if someone’s kept their nose clean for 10 years, I fail to see any reason they should continue being treated as felons.

Personally, I’m of the belief that if they represent that big of a danger to society, why are they free to walk the streets in the first place? If they’re not locked up, they should be accorded their rights.

That’s especially true when you’re dealing with people who weren’t really a danger in the first place.

These are non-violent felons. Many of them never even went to prison. They just got some probation and went on with their life. Yet they don’t actually get to go on with their lives.

A bill like this would change that. I think it could be better, but I think this is about all that you’re likely to see passed.

What’s funny is that I expect some of the people who will oppose this bill are also more than fine churning violent criminals back out onto the street as quickly as possible before their trials.

Ironic, ain’t it?

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