Fool Of Law

As part of a federal funding bill signed last fall, the government prohibited anyone ever convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun. To make the law tight as a drum, the government made sure to include misdemeanor offenses--particularly relevant since most such cases are prosecuted as misdemeanors, not felonies.

Ironically, the group most affected by the law are the nation's 700,000 law-enforcement officers. So far, the new law has forced the reassignment of a few dozen cops around the country to desk duty. If the Justice Department, which has so far relied on voluntary compliance, pushes the matter, analysts estimate that thousands of police officers could be sidelined--if not looking for new careers altogether.

The problem stems from treating police as equal to other citizens under the law. Most gun legislation--such as the Brady law, which among other things, made it illegal for convicted felons to own guns--automatically exempts law-enforcement personnel. Police unions plan to challenge the law on the grounds that it contradicts constitutional guarantees against retroactive laws and that, according to a spokesperson for the National Association of Police Organizations, "It is patently unfair to police officers."

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