Friday, July 07, 2006

Felons with guns and badges

Say Uncle links to this story which talks about a guy who served twenty years in the Army, then became a police officer, then they ran a background check and found that he is a felon. I have mixed feelings on this subject.

First of all, the background check should have been run before he ever took the oath of office. He's a policeman, by God and we run criminal histories as a matter of course.

Second, we are sworn to uphold the law. Even if we disagree with it. Granted, we have great discretion in arresting and great discretion in most activities on our job, but I think we can all agree that discretion is the greater part of honor.

Third, here in Louisiana we recognize that people, good people, can make mistakes and our laws reflect that. A felon can get a second chance in Louisiana and while it isn't something to take lightly, I am pleased that most folks get a second chance. We routinely grant first offender pardons to most offenders and those folks who get first offender pardons can also get their gun rights and voting rights restored. Sometimes it takes ten years, but that is prudent in my opinion.

I have known cops who had felonies on their records, but everyone knew about it and they had to jump through all the hoops to clear their records before they pinned on the badge. One youthful indescretion wasn't enough to blemish them forever.

I think Louisiana does the right thing and strikes a reasonable balance in this regard.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"A felon can get a second chance in Louisiana and while it isn't something to take lightly"

Actually, no they can't. felon in possession is a federal crime and the ATF does not fund the program to give firearm rights back. Someone who is a felon with a gun is always a federal criminal.

-SayUncle

Pawpaw said...

Say Uncle says" Someone who is a felon with a gun is always a federal criminal."

Well, maybe in Tennessee. I have talked with several local ATF agents here (before their conversion to ATFE)and asked about their application of the law. As it stood in the late '90's, the understanding of ATF was that if the offense had occurred in a state, and that state later issued a pardon, that the feds were not involved and would not get involved unless that person crossed states lines. In effect, a felon who stayed on one state would not be prosecuted in that state if the state had returned his civil rights. The interpretation may have changed after 9/11, but I have no indication that it changed.

Standard Mischief said...

...understanding of ATF was that if the offense had occurred in a state, and that state later issued a pardon, that the feds were not involved and would not get involved unless that person crossed states lines.

Until they change their understanding. If it's just a "understanding" what happens when the BATF guys change their understanding.

That's why we have laws. In big books. With terms of art that the average person needs a $200+ legal professonal to figure out. And let's hope someone like the D.A. isn't out to get you because there's proably a law somewhere that everyone has broken at one time or another.

If we have an "understanding", then we don't have a justice system based on law. We have one based on men and woman in power.