Two Letters Re: Montana Felons

Dear HJL,

I read your response about felons and their ability, or lack thereof, to have firearms. I am surprised by your response. Personally, I think there are some crimes that are beyond the pale of civil society. For me this would be sexual predators, murderers, and traitors. They have not only attacked and destroyed, but they have also shown a total disregard for people and citizenship. So we want them to have a gun legally to protect themselves? You mean to protect themselves from other felons like themselves? Let’s be honest here. They are going to have a gun whether it is legal or not because they don’t care about the rule of law. My question to you is when does someone’s behavior make null and void our country’s Social Contract between society’s responsibility towards the citizen and the citizen’s duty towards the body politic and its social contract? Sincerely – A.S.

Hugh Replies: The existence of the “Department of Corrections” is to provide a method of “paying” for their crime and to rehabilitate. I will not deny that some criminals are incorrigible, but that is precisely the point. Why are we letting criminals who cannot be “corrected” back out on the streets? For those that have paid the price and are “corrected”, why are they not re-integrated back into society? We have created a new class of quasi-citizen that really isn’t a citizen and has virtually no rights simply because we fear them. If we fear them, why are they out? We are cruel and inhumane for dumping them on the streets and guaranteeing that they will commit crimes if they simply defend their lives or property, yet we do not provide that service for them. It’s a “no-win” situation all the way around.

Let me put it this way: A minor child does not have any inalienable rights on their own. They only have those rights through their guardians or parents. At some point, they become adults in their own right, and at that point they get all the rights and responsibilities that go along with adulthood, including those inalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is important to understand that neither document grants those rights. They only outline pre-existing rights and limit the government’s power over those rights. A person who commits a crime and is convicted of it is reprimanded to the department of corrections. In essence, the adult now becomes a minor and only has those rights through the guardian of the “state”. When the designated penalty is paid, the convict is now released from the state and becomes a fully functioning adult with all of the rights and responsibilities of an adult. If the state wishes to keep those “inalienable” rights from the person, then they must not relinquish the guardianship of that person. It could conceivably be compared to turning your child out on the street and expecting them to survive. In most states, the guardian is liable for crimes committed by the child and should they not provide protection, they are often accused of child endangerment. How is it any different when you have removed the rights of the adult but expect them to have the responsibility of an adult? When you understand the concept, it is an immoral position to hold. I believe the current system is corrupted beyond repair, but at some point the system will “reset” and these are things that must be considered.

o o o

To Whom It May Concern,

I take a different view than most on this issue. Let me first state that I am a career LEO, and I have been an Army MP, a Deputy Sheriff, and a State officer.

Many people do not consider the fact many seemingly minor items can be or become felonies. White collar crime is an example.

It is my belief that after a time, rights should be restored. I do not believe it is constitutional to keep a person from bearing arms.

Why can’t we take away their right to peacefully assemble or practice religion or even basic free speech? Why can’t we strip convicted felons of their 4th amendment rights and give police the power to pat any convicted felon down, warrant or not? If you have a logical answer as to why their 2nd amendment and inalienable rights can be disenfranchised away, I hope you have a logical answer as to why their other rights CANNOT be stripped away.

How is this not discrimination of a free man who has served his time for a crime and then been forced to live with a life sentence of having some inalienable rights infringed upon him? How is this not double jeopardy? Where in the Constitution does it say that government can disenfranchise a citizen of their inalienable rights after they have paid for their crime? Where in the Constitution does it grant authority to government to wield the power of granting clemency over a free citizen [who must submit an application asking for their rights] in order to restore his/her inalienable rights after having served their time and been released a free individual? – S.B.