September 15, 2005

Another Misdemeanor Disqualification

Via Talkleft I discovered that the house approved an amendment to a bill that would make possession of firearms an offense for those convicted of misdemeanors involving sex.

Child rapists shouldn't have guns right? Well I'd say that child rapists shouldn't have breath, but that's another topic.

What about a man who grabs a child's arm after the child carelessly darted in front of his car? (via Kim du Toit) Although to be fair I'm not sure if those charges (we are talking Illinois after all) were misdemeanor or felony.

What about a married couple that engages in oral sex in Georgia?

How about a 19 year old boy who has sex with a 17 year old girl in a state where the age of consent is 18 & her father really, really hates him?

How about a man who urinated in public in a state where such exposure is a sex offense?

I think you see where I'm going with this. I will not argue that a person who commits an act of forcible, non-consensual sex should be allowed to possess a firearm. Of course my argument would come on the manner of prohibition - ideally he shouldn't have a firearm in his prison cell or coffin, depending upon the severity of the offense.

But we are talking misdemeanors here. If an offense is serious enough to warrant a deprivation of Rights (which should be accomplished through jail time, not a "verboten" tag next to their name on a list) then it would usually be a felony. Hell, there are all kinds of felonies that should be at most misdemeanors or not crimes at all. But a misdemeanor is typically viewed as something not terribly serious. Perhaps not something worth overlooking entirely, but nothing that should warrant a deprivation of a Right.

What congress has done, knowingly or perhaps unwittingly, is up the ante. It's a very slow game, but it's a game nonetheless. In 1938 I believe (though I could be mistaken) congress made it a felony for convicted felons to possess firearms (state laws varied). By 1968 it was someone who committed an offense punishable by one year (Federal - for state crimes it was two years). Then in the 90's came Lautenburg & domestic violence misdemeanors were added to the list. Now, if this gets past the senate it'll be misdemeanor sex crimes.

Think our boy "w" will veto it? Hell, when he thinks something is unconstitutional he still wonders if veto is that Italian kid from across the dorm from college. Besides, you know the field day the anti's will have with this - "So Bush wants to let child rapists carry hidden guns?"

Still, I'm hoping this doesn't make it through the senate. Not because I want child rapists to have guns (ya know I always thought most child molesters didn't use firearms what with their prey being physically incapable of defense) but because I don't want to slide down that slippery slope any further. Alcohol & drug misdemeanors would likely be next, but who knows how long before moving violations are disqualifiers? Besides, I see no legitimate area of federal involvement (nope; my reading of the commerce clause does not condone prohibitions like this) that would negate their explicit denial of authority to deny any person arms.

Posted by Publicola at September 15, 2005 03:07 AM | TrackBack
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