August 29, 2009

IN THE COMMENTS TO THIS VOLOKH POST on the right to bear arms and felons is a comment raising an important point:

I would start by pointing out that over the years, the legal system has “inflated” the value of a felony conviction, both by not adjusting the value of thefts for inflation over decades since these amounts were cast in statute, as well as multiplying the number of crimes that are felonies. The most recent example comes from, of all places, the Consumer Product Safety Commission where it is now a federal crime to sell a recalled product.

In my own state of Missouri, any theft over $500 is a felony. We can thank the Federal Reserve’s printing press that this is not nearly as much wealth as it used to be. How many golf club sets cost more than this?

In particular, we have downright multiplied the non-violent crimes that are felonies. A lot are more technical in nature. Having a blanket rule that felons lose their RKBA, in my opinion, does not serve justice at all.

Indeed, having felons lose any of their civil rights over nonviolent “regulatory” felonies strikes me as unjust, and I’ve meant for years to look at whether it might violate due process. At any rate, I believe the distinction between malum prohibitum and malum in se should come into play here. Here’s a related comment.