Felons and Gun Control

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Capstone

Not All
Convicted Felons Should Lose Their Right to Vote or Possess a Firearm

Reed Flierl

A felony is a conviction of a crime punishable in the United States by imprisonment of more than a year. Once you are convicted of a felony you lose certain rights, regardless of whether it’s a violent crime such as, murder, or if you were convicted of a non-violent crime such as, felony possession. The loss of certain citizenship rights, due to criminal activity, goes back as far as 1100BC – through today. In the eyes of the law a felony is a felony. After a conviction of a felony your right to vote is lost as well as the right to possess a fire arm or ammunition. Some states also hold foreign felony convictions against you the same as if they were committed in the United States. The question here is why shouldn’t non-violent offenders be able to vote or possess a fire arm. The other issue is how some states can hold a felony conviction from a foreign country against you when their laws are totally different than ours. All convicted felons are categorized the same regardless of the crime, which brings up some controversy among many ex-nonviolent felons who are pushing to have the laws amended.

One of the rights you lose is the right to vote. Voting is a privilege for law abiding citizens, so if you chose to break the law you also may have to give up your right to vote. Congress prohibits felons from voting as a form of punishment, and an attempt to deter people from committing crimes. Felons are also viewed as criminals who don’t deserve the privilege to cast a vote. Voting in this day and age plays a fundamental role, and states should not disenfranchise a person’s voting rights. One in fifty adult citizens or approximately 4.2 million citizens were ineligible to vote in 2003. This number continues to rise as more people are convicted of felonies, and sent to prison. According to the North Carolina General Assembly, a convicted felon may have their voting rights restored after they complete their sentence, parole, or probation depending on the state and their laws. Maine and Vermont have no restrictions on voting rights; however eight states permanently deny the right to vote to anyone who has been convicted of a felony. “Disenfranchisement laws are applied randomly. California, for instance, denies the vote to anyone who conspires to operate a motor vehicle without a muffler. Suspending their license makes sense, but depriving them of their voting rights?” (Hull, 2003) In Florida those who owe child support forfeit their political rights, but anyone found guilty of depriving a minor of food and shelter does not. According to the Human Rights Watch and The Sentencing Project, nearly 3.9 million people are prohibited from voting, a majority of whom are former convicts who completed their sentence. “Disenfranchising inmates goes against the American tradition of laboring for the expansion of voting rights for all American citizens. In many states, the prohibiting of former convicts from voting has become a form of government-sanctioned discrimination against felons who have completed their restitution to society. This is especially true for African-American males who constitute a disproportionate percentage of disenfranchised former felons” (Knowles, 2000). Two million African Americans or one in twelve are ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction. Another major problem is the number of black juvenile’s caught up in the justice system. Forty percent of them will be ineligible to vote for some or all of their lives. . This is more than one-third of the black juvenile population who may potentionally be unable to voice their opinion and vote as adults. Their vote is just as important as those who haven’t been convicted of a felony. Congress and state assemblies must support legislation that reverses this unconstitutional practice. This amendment stipulates that “No state shall make or enforce any...
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