I firmly believe one of the problems we have in this country with recidivism isn’t that some people are just incapable of being reformed–though I’m sure that’s true–but that we keep punishing people even after they get out of prison.
We take away their gun rights, their ability to vote, and make it virtually impossible for them to get a good job. That’s not exactly encouraging someone to walk the straight and narrow.
While the last of those three is arguably the biggest point, for some, the loss of their Second Amendment rights is a big issue, too. That’s especially true with those who weren’t convicted of violent crimes.
In Wyoming, a step has been taken to rectify that for some convicted felons.
On March 17, Governor Gordon signed a bill giving back gun rights to non-violent felons five years after they complete their sentencing.
SF0120 allows “any person who has previously pleaded guilty to or been convicted of committing or attempting to commit a felony that is not a violent felony and has not been pardoned or has not had the person’s rights restored” to possess a firearm five years after completing their sentence, probation or parole.
The bill defines violent felons as those convicted of things like murder, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and similar offenses.
Now, undoubtedly, many will try and claim that this somehow makes Wyoming less safe, but that’s not remotely the case. These are non-violent felons we’re talking about. Someone convicted of mail fraud isn’t really going to start killing people.
There was never any reason non-violent felons couldn’t be trusted with their full gun rights in the first place, but it made people feel better.
Unfortunately for those folks, that’s not really how it works.
My own take has always been that if people have served their time, they served their time. Let them get back to life as fully as they could. Maybe a period of parole where they have to adhere to certain rules or what have you, as part of their sentence or in exchange for getting out early, but sooner or later, they need to be treated as citizens again.
If they can’t be trusted with their Second Amendment rights, then why are they out in the first place?
That’s not a majority opinion, though, and many would love to see felons not even get their rights restored ever. That’s a shame.
Luckily, in Wyoming, it’s now out of those individuals’ hands. They cannot prevent non-violent felons from getting their gun rights restored. They can go back to the things they enjoyed, like hunting. They can defend themselves from actual, dangerous felons. They can live and act as free men.
That’s what this nation is supposed to be about. I’m damn glad to see someone somewhere actually gets it, even while other states are trying to restrict the right to keep and bear arms so severely that it might as well just be a lofty aspiration.
Good on Wyoming.