Criminal Justice

Rand Paul Wants to Restore Felons' Voting Rights. What About Their Gun Rights?

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Comedy Central

This week Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) plans to introduce a bill that would restore the federal voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their prison terms or served at least a year of probation. Citing figures from the Sentencing Project, Politico notes that "nearly 8 percent of the black population currently cannot vote, compared with 1.8 percent of the nonblack population." As Paul points out, blacks are also disproportionately affected by the mandatory minimum sentences he wants to abolish. Politico cites evidence that Paul's support for such reforms is helping him among African-American voters: "A recent poll in Kentucky showed Paul garnering 29 percent of the African-American vote—a huge bump from the 13 percent he received during his 2010 Senate campaign." Asked about the political calculus underlying his criminal-justice proposals, Paul says: "I believe in these issues. But I'm a politician, and we want more votes. Even if Republicans don't get more votes, we feel like we've done the right thing."

I agree that it's the right thing, although I would support the broader approach favored by the ACLU, which would restore voting rights to all felons who have served their time, regardless of the crimes they committed. It has never made sense to me that committing a felony should forever turn someone into a second-class citizen, which contradicts the goal of reintegrating people into society after they've completed their sentences. In the same vein, why should everyone convicted of a felony be permanently stripped of his Second Amendment rights? Paul likes to tell the story of a friend's brother who to this day is not allowed to vote because of a 20-year-old marijuana conviction. It makes no more sense that to this day he is not allowed to own a gun, and I imagine that many Americans attach more value to the fundamental human right of armed self-defense than they do to the privilege of checking off the least odious choice on a list of politicians every couple of years. Amending the Gun Control Act of 1968 to eliminate such arbitrary deprivations of liberty seems like another issue that could give rise to interesting and productive left-right alliances.

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  1. Yeah, I used to think felons shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Now I don’t know why we’d take away that right (other than for someone committing, say, VOTE FRAUD).

    It evens out, cause I’m not voting any more so…

    1. I’d rather you vote than a bunch of felons.

      1. YOU FOOL!!

  2. Rand Paul Wants to Restore Felons’ Voting Rights. What About Their Gun Rights?

    I too am surprised. Voting is a far greater danger to society than guns.

  3. Somehow I’m guessing that “Rand Paul 2016: More Bad Guys with Guns” is not the route to libertarian victory.

    1. Aren’t the gun controllers implicitly campaigning for “More Bad Guys with Guns”?

      1. “But we didn’t intend to have all these unintended consequences!”

      2. Not really. Just less good guys with guns. But everything they push for does increase the BGWG/GGWG ratio.

  4. I agree but good luck with that one, Sullum.

  5. Whoa, whoa, slow down there Chief. Too much restored liberty too fast makes the public allergic. They just won’t stand for it.

    1. There is taint of truthiness in this post.

      1. Are you sure that just isn’t your mom’s smell on me?

        1. Paul, you never should have said taint.

  6. Future HuffPo headline:

    Koch-backed “Journalist” Wants to Re-Arm Violent Felons

  7. “I’m here to chew bubblegum and to vote….and I’m allll out of bubblegum….”

    *pushes pin through punchcard repeatedly*

  8. On the other hand, no punishment is too harsh for squirrels.

    1. OK, it didn’t like the length of my initial link, apparently. But unlike other times, they didn’t give me a “too long” error message, they just went to a blank screen.

  9. “I would support the broader approach favored by the ACLU, , which would restore voting rights to all felons who have served their time, regardless of the crimes they committed.”

    I believe most states already do this. Let me Google it…

    OK, here we go. I counted only ten states (including Kentucky) where felons are still disenfranchised even after completing their sentence*, meaning that in 40 states, felons get the vote back after the expiration of their sentence*, or even earlier.

    *including probation and parole

    http://bit.ly/1u5i2jm

    (from ACLU Web site)

    1. *upon* the expiration of their sentence

    2. OK, here we go. I counted only ten states (including Kentucky) where felons are still disenfranchised even after completing their sentence

      So you don’t consider losing their 2nd amendment rights, forever, as being disenfranchised? They are at best, half citizens.

      1. It just means losing the right to vote.

        1. Not buying that. Taking away someones constitutionally guaranteed rights after they have served whatever penalty they were punished with, under law, is disenfranchisement.

  10. Well, part of the problem is that “felon” encompasses a lot more than it used to.

    If we look at Blackstone, we see that felonies, in the Common Law tradition, used to be crimes liable of capital punishment (as well as those subject to total forfeiture of land or goods) – “such an act is as much as your life, or estate, is worth.”, as he puts it.

    I can see a crime that called for death (or the forfeit of all property, perhaps not much different in old Britain) being one that might, in lieu of that, strip one of rights to participate in running the State, or be armed.

    But today’s “felony” means merely anything that might involved over a year of jail time; one may easily commit a felony, in the modern usage, without even knowing it.

    In these circumstances, I’m not even sure felony should disarm one in the first place, assuming said pseudo-felony was not a crime of violence, and a particularly severe one or one demonstrating a dangerous lack of impulse control or judgment.

    1. Agreed. There is nothing sacrosanct about democracy; it’s a sorting mechanism for those in power, that’s all. There’s no reason it can’t be improved by selecting for those electors who are not guilty of felonies in the original sense of the term.

    2. While felon encompasses more today, capital punishment and forfeiture encompass much less. Rape, theft, and forgery (among others) were all capital offenses in Blackstone.

  11. Does that include voting in national elections?

  12. Still waiting for the stupid party to torpedo this effort

  13. I think we all agree that drug and gun crimes (as well as other victimless crime BS) is poorly thought-out law, should be scrapped, and that citizens should not be penalized at all by their governments for engaging in those behaviors.

    More interesting to me is the question of whether there are property and/or violent crimes sufficiently bad as to render their perpetrator unworthy of having a say in how his community uses coercive force.

    Leaving aside those few of us who believe in entirely non-governmental coercion, most of us are probably good democrat-republicans who believe that a voting republic is either the best/most moral among governments to use force, or who at least accept that it is our system. In one sense, the US is ruled not by one king, but millions of mini-kings. In an enlightened monarchy, the king is not above the law and there are crimes for which he must pay with forced abdication (IOW, he has no power over others’ lives). This seems appropriate to me: a king who is a serial killer or a thief cannot be trusted with governance.

    Does the same logic hold for voting, as well?

    1. The logic probably holds, but giving voting rights to a thief is probably not as big a deal since the impact would be diluted across the whole voting pool.

      As for a serial killer, well, my preferred approach would be that convicted serial killers are locked up for life.

  14. Rand is a smart guy, he knows how to do this incremental thing. We can’t build Libertopia in a day.

    And you don’t need to be a felon to lose your 2nd amendment rights. Some misdemeanors will do the same. Brady Act 1994.

  15. Amending the Gun Control Act of 1968 to eliminate such arbitrary deprivations of liberty seems like another issue that could give rise to interesting and productive left-right alliances.

    So which leftists want to eliminate gun laws?

    1. He predicted an alliance. He didn’t say which way it would go.

  16. Amending the Gun Control Act of 1968 to eliminate such arbitrary deprivations of liberty seems like another issue that could give rise to interesting and productive left-right alliances.

    I tend to think anything expanding rights to firearms will not be supported by the prog-infused left.

    1. Yeah, it’s a totem for them now. They have gone full animist apeshit over guns and they cannot be even slightly rational about them at this point. Any attempt at an alliance over this will either cause frothing-mouthed insanity or the usual slippery mendacious requests for “compromise” where they give up nothing and ask for everything.

      1. Epi’s right, I should buy a new gun this week.
        Something scary in .308, I’m thinking.

        1. I might be close to getting something new, just for the hell of it. I’ve tried to be really responsible the last few years and only buy guns that I’m actually going to shoot or carry. I’ve already pruned my collection once before (I hate hate hate having stuff around, of any kind, that I don’t use at all and just takes up space), and I don’t want to have to do it again.

          But an AK would always go nicely in my collection.

          1. I’m looking very seriously at a Zastava N-PAP right now. Seriously as in might go get it this week. It’s $200 off at my local store right now.

            1. Yeah but $200 off what? Prices were fucking insane for a while, and I don’t do insane prices, unless they’re Crazy Eddie.

                1. The current prices on AKs stick in my craw, but they are probably not going anywhere. I was an idiot for not just buying a few of them back when they were stupid cheap. At least I got my SKS for nothing.

        2. I’ve been considering a Century Arms AK-47. Any of you guys have an opinion on those? My thoughts are that it would be relatively inexpensive and very reliable.

          1. I had a deposit on a GP WASR10 for 2 years. It never came into stock, so I got an HK USC instead. My next gun will be in 7.62, don’t care if it’s NATO or Commie.

          2. Aren’t those heavy as shit? A friend of mine has an Egyptian paratrooper’s AK (he was in the Navy, some SEAL had it and sold it to the gun shop because he was low on cash, and my friend swooped in and grabbed it), and it’s light as hell and completely fucking fun to shoot. That’s essentially what I’m looking for.

            1. Probably a Maadi. Banned in CA. Very highly regarded in the AK family: http://www.atlanticfirearms.co…..l?Itemid=0

              1. If so, he lucked out, because he got it at a very good price. It’s very depressing to see CT on that page as one of the “special” (meaning: retarded) cases for dealing with the gun. It didn’t used to be that way.

                I should see if I can get him to sell it to me. Probably not. Otherwise I just need to see something good at a gun show at a reasonable price, and reasonable prices were nonexistent for a while there.

            2. I’ve shot the GP WASR10 a few times, and it’s lighter than my AR. Even lighter if you ditch the wood furniture and go with plastic grips and stock.

          3. I have a friend that has one. A Yugo one. It’s really fun to shoot, and the crazy Russian guy that owns the gun range was impressed by it. The barrel gets really hot though, like it looked like the burner on an electric range after a while. We had to stand around for like 10 minutes until it cooled enough to put it back in the bag. I guess that’s a thing with AKs?

          4. Century Arms doesn’t have the best reputation. It can certainly be a serviceable firearm, but check it over well before throwing your cash down. Canted sights are the most notorious issue, and IIRC they require some effort to fix.

            1. This issue is crops up mostly in Romanian WASR-10s, I should note.

              1. Ive heard that their US made AK sporters are good. I believe they call them centurians.

                If you’re handy, I highly recommend buying a Saiga 7,62 and converting it back into an AK yourself

  17. Restore voting rights? You’d be better off looking for more opportunities to revoke them.

    1. civic literacy test

  18. Hmm…

    Either you are capable of fully re-instating a felon’s gun rights or he/she is such a danger to himself and others that even keeping them in prison for the rest of their life would make them an undue burden on society.

    Hmm…

  19. “..In the same vein, why should everyone convicted of a felony be permanently stripped of his Second Amendment rights?”

    Beca_se F_ck Yo_, That’s Why!

    I’d like to buy a vowel..

  20. Seems like “black people but with guns” is a surefire way to alienate 70% of the electorate, with something to alienate both Southern whites and coastal sophisticates. I just think it sounds like a great elevator pitch for a movie deal.

    1. Wait, that was a movie. It was Two Brothers from the Rixty Minutes episode of Rick & Morty.

  21. I’m in favor of some felons being allowed to legally own firearms, but I think Rand Paul would have to be crazy to even mention that in an election year.

    I’m not really sure why he’s talking about letting felons vote either…I get why he believes it’s right (and I agree), but it seems like one of those election question traps his dad always fell into that kicked off one of his Great Pumpkin moments.

    1. I’m not really sure why he’s talking about letting felons vote either…I get why he believes it’s right (and I agree), but it seems like one of those election question traps his dad always fell into that kicked off one of his Great Pumpkin moments.

      Seems like a (possibly over-peoples’-heads) trump card for any assertions of racism and/or “deportism”.

      Whether it will play out as smart or “a presidential candidate worried about raw milk” is yet to be seen.

      1. If he wanted to talk about gun rights and racism, much better to talk about restrictive city and state laws that prevent law-abiding black people (and everyone else) from defending themselves against felons, rather than about arming felons.

    2. Do you mean x-felons? Or are you saying that all punishments are for life? We need to get this clear.

  22. Restoring voting right to a felon who has served his/her time is fine. But someone convicted of a violent felony should lose his/her right to own a firearm for life. Rape, murder, assault w intent to kill, and a few others. Non-violent felons should have gun rights restored with other rights when they have served their time.

  23. I’m an extreme libertarian here. I think people currently in prison should have the right to vote. Few are so directly affected by government than its prisoners.

    1. Your jealous because of the prison sex, just admit it and be on your way.

  24. Rand will likely lose what little black support he gained by helping to restore the black felons’ right to vote by also supporting their second amendment rights.

    This is kinda like a Republican saying “I support amnesty / path to legalization, but I also want to cut spending on education and abolish the minimum wage.” You gave them one of out two, but the one thing you denied them is what they want the most.

    The gun control crowd is going to howl if Rand supports drug user’s right to bear arms. If a non violent black kid went on a shooting spree, you can imagine the headlines. I seriously doubt black people care about another black person’s right to arm themselves, even though they’re more likely to get shot by straw purchased guns that escape gun laws.

  25. Sounds pretty solid to me dude, like for real.

    http://www.WentAnon.tk

  26. Miles can be measured in inches as well. Perhaps we can’t take the full mile immediately, but we can take it an inch at a time.

  27. Re-fund the Restoration of Rights department of the BATFE. It was defunded back in 1992 by anti-firearms groups’ lobbying. The SCotUS is no use because they already ruled in “UNITED STATES, et al., PETITIONERS v. THOMAS LAMAR BEAN” http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/…..vol=01-704 that there is no right to restoration if there is no funding for the program.

    Read the SCotUS decision here: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/…..vol=01-704

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