In this country, we routinely deny felons their gun rights after they get out of prison. The reason is that there’s a belief that they might decide to return to a life of crime and, as such, they shouldn’t have guns.
Of course, as we’ve long seen, such laws don’t really stop recidivists from getting firearms. Those that want to return to a life of crime do so and if they want a gun, they don’t exactly hesitate to get one illegally.
But those who do reform are left out in the cold. They are doing everything right, yet still being punished by the misdeeds of the past.
In Iowa, one such person is suing to get his gun rights restored.
An Iowa man convicted of gang-related offenses 32 years ago is suing the governor’s office over the loss of his right to own a gun.
Anthony Browne, 52, of Iowa City is suing Gov. Kim Reynolds and Johnson County Sheriff Brad Kunkel in the U.S. District for the Southern n District of Iowa.
Browne claims his past convictions for a violent crime should not have resulted in the permanent loss of his right to keep and bear arms. He argues that his criminal sentences were fully discharged 25 years ago and that he has had his other rights as a citizen restored for the past 18 years.
According to Browne, he was convicted in 1991 of felony willful injury and criminal gang participation and sentenced to 10 years in prison on the first charge and five years in prison on the second, with the two terms to be served concurrently.
Browne apparently started taking college courses while in prison, then got out in 1998 and was awarded a degree in computer science in 2005.
Since then, he’s apparently been a model citizen and has been a registered voter in his home county. He apparently even has a high-level security clearance due to his work with Collins Aerospace.
Now, let’s talk about felons and gun rights in general for a second.
You have a few different camps on the discussion, and there’s gray area between all of them. You’ve got those who think felons should have to do what Browne is doing in order to get their gun rights restored, for one. Their argument tends to be something along the lines of felons have already shown a lack of respect for the law and gun rights should only be restored on a case-by-case basis.
Then you have those who believe that non-violent felons shouldn’t lose their gun rights since they’re not violent. They tend to agree with the first camp on violent felons, though.
Finally, you have those who figure that if someone is so dangerous they can’t be trusted with their rights, they should remain in prison. If we’re going to let them walk around freely, they have the right to keep and bear arms.
Browne was a violent felon. He was convicted of being a gang member and shooting another person. As such, two of those camps think he should have to go through with filing an expensive lawsuit in order to get his rights back.
But, he’s also the kind of person we want everyone convicted of such a crime to become. He’s a model citizen, better than a lot of non-felons, it looks like.
In other words, all three camps would likely agree he should be able to buy a gun.
If ever there was a slam dunk on gun rights being restored, this one should be it. My hope is that Iowa does that and lets this man enjoy his right to keep and bear arms.