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Should the Supreme Court revisit whether felons can have firearms?

| Dec 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense, Felonies |

A felony conviction can carry more penalties than prison time and fines. While the prison time will end, consequences like losing the right to carry a firearm can last forever.

This week, rapper Lil Wayne was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charge comes from an incident last year where authorities found a gold-plated handgun in his luggage after arriving in Miami on a private plane.

Carrying a firearm after a felony conviction can come with severe consequences, including jail or significant prison time. Still, there is speculation that the newest addition to the Supreme Court could change whether some felons may possess guns in the future.

A new perspective

Over the years, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have talked about making changes to the rules regarding felons and their second amendment rights. As a former appeals court judge, now, Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, wrote a significant dissent in Kanter v. Barr where she discussed when felons should (and should not) lose their right to carry a firearm.

In her dissent, Barrett explains that people who are convicted of non-violent crimes should retain their right to possess guns. She further argued that only those who are shown to be dangerous should lose this right.

This perspective suggests that should a relevant case make it to the Supreme Court, Justice Barrett would advocate for evaluating a felon’s history before determining whether they have lost their right to carry a gun.

Felon’s rights

There has been much discussion regarding what rights convicted felons should regain after they have completed their court-ordered sentence and paid the required fines. Some people are often mistaken about what rights were restored.

Last year, the Supreme Court also discussed certain statutes that prohibit firearm possession. In Rehaif v. United States, the Court determined that the government must prove not only that the defendant was in possession of the firearm, but also that they knew they had a status that would prohibit possession of a gun. Rehaif was a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, and living in the United States even though his visa had been revoked. Similar to convicted felons, people with this status are not permitted to possess firearms. The Court found that since the prosecution could not prove he knew his illegal status in the United States, he could not be convicted of illegal possession of a firearm.

In Lil Wayne’s case, his felony conviction stemmed from the possession of drugs and firearms over a decade ago. In the early 2000s, the rapper had multiple arrests for possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. Unfortunately, he was also in possession of a firearm at the time, which led to the combined charges and, ultimately, the felony conviction. While serious, these crimes still may not be classified as violent crimes. Like his past charges, Lil Wayne’s current charges are allegations of possession, not violence.

With the recent change to the Supreme Court, there could be opportunities to revisit how the law views non-violent felons and their right to carry firearms.

Darryl A. Goldberg can support your defense

Drug and firearm charges can have serious consequences in Chicago and federal courts. Experienced criminal defense attorney Darryl A. Goldberg can help you build a successful defense to your case. Contact Darryl A. Goldberg online or at 773-793-3196 for a consultation.

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