August 30, 2009

North Carolina Supreme Court Says Some Felons Do Have a Right to Bear Arms

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh recently wrote on his blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, that the North Carolina Supreme Court has just held in Britt v. State that some felons -- whose crimes are long in the past -- do have a constitutional right to bear arms, at least under the North Carolina Constitution.

Volokh said, "The vote was 5-2, with four of the five Justices joining the majority opinion and the fifth concurring in the judgment without written opinion. Note that since this is an interpretation of the North Carolina Constitution, the decision is final, with no basis for further review by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Quotes from the decision:

Eugene Volokh

Eugene Volokh

Plaintiff, through his uncontested lifelong nonviolence towards other citizens, his thirty years of law-abiding conduct since his crime, his seventeen years of responsible, lawful firearm possession between 1987 and 2004, and his assiduous and proactive compliance with the 2004 amendment, has affirmatively demonstrated that he is not among the class of citizens who pose a threat to public peace and safety....

Based on the facts of plaintiff’s crime, his long post-conviction history of respect for the law, the absence of any evidence of violence by plaintiff, and the lack of any exception or possible relief from the statute’s operation, as applied to plaintiff, the 2004 version of N.C.G.S. § 14-451.1 [a complete ban on any possession of a firearm by a felon] is an unreasonable regulation, not fairly related to the preservation of public peace and safety. In particular, it is unreasonable to assert that a nonviolent citizen who has responsibly, safely, and legally owned and used firearms for seventeen years is in reality so dangerous that any possession at all of a firearm would pose a significant threat to public safety.

Click here to read Volokh's full discussion.

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Comments (3)

I guess the arguement could be that if you are too dangerous to own a gun you shouldn't be out of jail.

Posted by: Robert J | September 28, 2009 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Which other Constitutional right does a convicted felon lose for life?

If he's actually paid his debt to society," then just where is it in the Constitution that allows "The State" to deny a man any of his Constitutional rights?


Posted by: RackEmPunk | September 9, 2009 1:06 PM    Report this comment

Eugene Volokh and his posters are extremely intelligent people, and I have a bit of trouble keeping up with them. As most people here know, I tend to be a fairly simplistic absolutist. When I was young, for example, the art of chessplaying had the unfortunate effect of bringing out my latent Visigoth, in which I grew impatient with the subtleties of the game, and began to march forth and lay waste to the boardscape, inevitably losing the game.

I guess that's why my career in politics never got off of the ground. I was defeated for class treasurer in the ninth grade.


Posted by: Lee W | August 30, 2009 8:36 PM    Report this comment

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