Everything Will Be a Felony

One of the arguments I make against prohibiting anybody with a felony from owning firearms is the fact that most felony crimes aren’t violent in nature. While an argument can be made to prohibit a murderer from owing a firearm as they have a history of violence there is no logical argument for preventing people charged with tax evasion from owning firearms. On top of that more crimes are being pushed up to felony level every day including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act:

In order to step up the prosecution of hackers and scary cybercriminals, the feds are changing a law to make unauthorized access to a computer system a felony rather than just a slap-on-the-wrist misdemeanor. That means making a change to something called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The article mentions an amendment being proposed to exempt violations of websites’ terms of services from the law but that’s not the point of this particular post. The point is that the government is constantly increasing the severity of crimes and those increases may leave you barred from exercising your rights even though you’ve never done anything violent.

I’m a firm believer in making criminals pay proportional compensation to their victims. This means that punishments should fit and once that punishment is exacted no further punishment should be brought against you. Those who steal from somebody should be made to return the stolen property (or the property’s value if it’s no longer returnable) along with an amount equal to the value of the stolen property. Once that debt has been paid no further punishment should be brought against the criminal. There is nothing proportional about preventing somebody who evaded theft taxes or hacked a computer from owning firearms or voting.

A vast difference exists in violent and non-violent crimes. Many people who are willing to perform non-violent crimes such as speeding or fraud are not willing to perform violent crimes such as assault or murder. The idea that we should prohibit all felons from ever again owning firearms needs to go the way of the dodo. Too many crimes are listed as felonies to make any logical argument that all felons should have their rights removed. Under the current system the government could ban firearms simply by elevating more minor crimes such as speeding and jaywalking to felony status.

4 thoughts on “Everything Will Be a Felony”

  1. Please note that I am very supportive of the severe punishment for the crime. However, I struggled with this gun control for felons issue and now realize that you are right. So, I’ve come around on this.

    Even a violent criminal may, upon their return to their neighborhood after serving their time, find it to be violent and inhospitable. The very definition of true need for a firearm for self-defense. This is also true in the case of the non-violent felonies which make it a life sentence of vulnerability. One purpose of the justice system is to reform, but if it continues to punish felons after their release, it has probably gone too far.

    The proper law should be that after a criminal has served their sentence they are allowed to again have firearms with the caveat that if they commit a crime while so armed, they are sent away for a long time. We need mandatory sentences for released felons who later use a firearm in a crime and must be punished severely. I do not want the judge or the prosecutors to have discretion or plea bargaining options. Send these repeat-offender clowns away for good.

    Now, the prohibition against felons voting is fair and makes sense. They violated the law and in turn would vote for politicians lax on crime. They have a huge vested interest in manipulating the political landscape for any future criminal enterprises, so this must not be allowed. That should be a life-time restriction.

  2. I will disagree with you on the proportions you propose. Basically you’re saying that if you are slick enough to avoid getting caught 51% of the time, you will get ahead by stealing. Theft creates intangible damages that can’t be made whole with cash.

    We need less flexible sentencing and plea bargaining–voters aren’t motivated to fix many excessively strict felonies because they are rarely used in full–rather they are used by prosecutors to score an easy plea to a lesser crime when the evidence may be insufficient to prove anything.

  3. Basically you’re saying that if you are slick enough to avoid getting caught 51% of the time, you will get ahead by stealing.

    The opposite of that statement is that in many cases the crime a person was caught performing was the only time they actually committed a crime. In other words with our current system I could say it basically accuses every criminal of having performed previous crimes but without any evidence demonstrating as such.

    Although I find crime (real crime that harms another or the property of another, not made up crimes such as speeding or jaywalking) detestable I also find punishing an innocent person equally detestable (I actually consider it a crime). If a person committed a crime justice should be sought but unless evidence exists that the same person committed another crime no punishment for that hypothetical crime should be sought.

    Theft creates intangible damages that can’t be made whole with cash.

    I do recognize this fact but these damages are generally subjective from person to person. For instance while one person may receive permanent mental scarring from being a victim of an armed robbery another person may be remain unphased beyond the loss of their property. There is no way of compensating a victim for an subjective damage unfortunately (you can’t implant equal mental scarring in the mugger). Due to this there is no way to justly punish a criminal for subjective damage they may have caused.

    Even increasing the standard jail sentence for a crime to reflect potential subjective damage unfairly punishes those who caused no such damage. On top of that the increased jail sentence isn’t going to compensate or otherwise help the victim in any way as that mental scarring will continue to remain with them. There is also the fact that the additional punishment is a burden to the tax payers who must continue to pay for the criminal’s incarceration.

    I would support making the criminal foot the bill for any required therapy their victim needed due to the criminal act as it would have the highest probability of repairing the victim’s mental scarring.

  4. How much someone profited from a crime should be largely irrelevant–if someone breaks into my house to steal a beer, getting 2 beers in return isn’t even worth my time. I’ll survive, wouldn’t need therapy–but I’ve suffered a loss of peace of mind far in excess of the financial damage. I also doubt that most thieves can make meaningful restitution, unless it is through more thievery.

    Real crime with a real victim should have real penalties regardless of the dollars involved and even if it is a first offense.

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