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Legality of Felons & guns in the military

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Oana, Apr 21, 2008.

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  1. Oana

    Oana Member

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    This article from the AP, "Army, Marines enlisting more felons", isn't really about guns but it got me thinking. It's my understanding that it's illegal for a felon to own or handle a firearm. So what gives when the military enlists felons, then hands them a gun? Is there an exception somewhere that I'm missing?

    As a side note, I'm storing this information away for debate purposes. Hard to argue that a law-abiding citizen shouldn't be able to own a gun to protect themselves, but a criminal who joins the military can carry an eeevil "assault rifle" with impunity. (Note: Not to knock our armed forces, it's just that...well, felons?)
     
  2. SageMonkey

    SageMonkey Member

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    Personally I don't see why a felon who has finished their sentence and "paid their debt to society" should be denied their 2A rights. If they are safe enough to trust back out in society where they can easily get a weapon regardless of the laws... then they are safe enough to trust to legally own a weapon... if they are a likely menace to use law-abiding types then they should still be locked up.

    But, aside from that rant, I would guess at the very least that the current administration would argue the President's power as commander in chief of the military trumps those statutes forbidding felons from possessing firarms, so long as it is for military purposes. I cringe when I hear about new powers claimed for the Executive Branch, but this would probably be a legitimate use of that argument. It would be interesting to know any specifics on this though, wouldn't it?
     
  3. kingpin008

    kingpin008 Member

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    +1,000 on that one.

    Sorry, don't have much else to add...
     
  4. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Member

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    Why do have to beat this to death all the time?

    It's been long established, 40 years now, that you commit a felony crime you lose RKBA. Don't like it, don't be a criminal!

    A lot of folks like to believe the above quote but fewer are willing to have a felon recently released from prison live with them.
     
  5. chris in va

    chris in va Member

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    That's a good question. I was at the Dallas MEPS waiting to get processed and ran into a really smart guy that passed with flying colors, but he could only get in the Army as a bomb loader.

    Seems he stole some cars earlier in his life. He was desperate to get health care for his wife and kid.
     
  6. chris in va

    chris in va Member

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    That's a rather cold statement. Do you think that all 'felonies' are violent or deserve prison terms and revocation of various rights?
     
  7. Ash

    Ash Member

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    Wouldn't want a thief living with me, either. For that matter, a child molester would be a no-no, too.

    But, then, that is OT. The military hands guys fully automatic machine guns, tank guns, guided missiles, grenades, and allows them to kill without being prosecuted. The rules are a bit different.

    Ash
     
  8. Oana

    Oana Member

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    For the record, I'm rather in favor of an overhaul of the felon = automatic 2A rights suspension. I don't want a violent offender strolling on the street with a gun, but not all felonies are violent. And in any event, if he's still that dangerous after 10 years, say, why isn't he in jail or executed? If he isn't, why can't he work to get back his rights? Martha Stewart's a felon, but I wouldn't mind her being allowed a gun. :)

    But legally, is it just a case of "the military is above that sort of law", or is there a clause lurking somewhere?
     
  9. nalioth

    nalioth Member

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    The military is not subject to civilian laws.

    When you sign up with them, you give up your rights as you know them.

    They are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
     
  10. TAB

    TAB Member

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    it really depends on what the felony is...

    I don't know anyone that has not commited a felony.

    Let me say that again.

    I don't know anyone that has not commited a felony.


    Infact I'd be willing to bet that if you polled THR and had every one truthfully answer that poll 95%+ of the members here have commited a felony. Lots of really strange laws out there as well as really minor things that are felonies.

    For example, lots of states have fire works of a certain kind( or at all) is a felony. There are so many minor things on the books that are felonys it will make your head spin.
     
  11. Treo

    Treo member

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    I've commited all kinds of felonies, I never got caught & now I've changed. I believe that certain classes of crimes ( any type of violent crime & certainly any type of crime in which a gun played a PREDOMINANT part) should carry W/ them an automatic revocation of RKBA. & I probably wouldn't allow any person on parole or probation to have firearms. But I'd be in agreement W/ say a full pardon for anyone who serves HONORABLY in the Armed forces.
     
  12. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    1. I have never committed a felony.
    2. Just because you join the military does not mean you get issued a personal weapon.
    3. The civilian Federal laws in regards to firearms possession apply to military members. If you can't posses a firearm according to Federal laws, you cannot be issued a personal firearm in the military. State laws don't matter.
    4. Actually, I only know this regarding the Navy, I have no idea about the other services.
     
  13. Guitargod1985

    Guitargod1985 Member

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    I have a cousin who got mixed up with weed for a few years and got caught with a bag of the stuff ( over 20 grams = felony). He ended up entering the Air Force as part of an alternate sentence for a drug offense.

    The judge basically gave him the option of serving a term in prison or serving a term in the military. If he chose the latter, adjudication would be withheld and he would not have a criminal record. So he enlisted.

    He didn't have to reenlist after four years, but he did anyway and he's about to reenlist for the third time. He made E6 (Tech Sgt?) a little while back.

    That's just to give you an example of a felon who I would consider a good guy. He would help out anyone in need if he were able. Some people make mistakes, but I don't that many of them should qualify as a lifelong condemnation as a second class citizen.
     
  14. BammaYankee

    BammaYankee Member

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    Felons in the military do not OWN the firearms they are using, if they are at all. From what I understand a civy felon can, in limited situations, use a firearm for hunting. They just cannot own the firearm or have 'posession' however.

    Not sure, but it may make a difference.
     
  15. cowssurf

    cowssurf Member

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    Ash said: "The military hands guys fully automatic machine guns, tank guns, guided missiles, grenades, and allows them to kill without being prosecuted. The rules are a bit different."

    I say not really. Here's why. Cops have fully automatic machine guns, explosives. They kill without being prosecuted. Bottom line, they are entrusted to "serve and protect." Now, do you think there's a snowball's chance in hell a cop could have a felony on his record and be accepted to the force? Why should our standards be any different in the military. We certainly don't want a bunch of recidivistic felons representing our country by murdering or raping civilians across the globe. We should never entrust these ex-cons with such a high and grave job. They have served their time, true, but only their jail time. There is a reason they must disclose their past to employers, gun shop owners, and others. It is because they have acted in such a way as to not deserve our trust. Recidivism is so high among criminals, we are Pollyannaish idiots if we simply turn the other cheek for them to slap it.

    If you think we should let felons in the military, then you also must agree we should let felons be cops. The only difference you could claim is that, "Hey they're on the other side of the world. They can't hurt us." Of course that attitude shows a xenophobic disregard for the other citizens of the world.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2008
  16. archigos

    archigos Member

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    Another +1000. The anti's keep talking about how the US has much more of a problem with gun violence than any other nation. Perhaps this is a symptom of poor societal values and a failed penal system - not a symptom of the responsibility to defend ourselves from oppression.
     
  17. Treo

    Treo member

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    QUOTE: "If you think we should let felons in the military, then you also must agree we should let felons be cops"

    I'd be willing to bet that there are waaay more felons ( that haven't been caught yet) wearing blue than there are wearing Desert BDUs.

    Hey guys FYI there's a war on the enlistment standards are just a bit relaxed. I'd be willing to bet that 90% of the felons that get enlisted become 11 B , 11M , or
    13Bs IOW they're making them bullet stoppers & sending them to Iraq. Why is this a baaaaaaaad thing?
     
  18. theken206

    theken206 Member

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    "I have a cousin who got mixed up with weed for a few years and got caught with a bag of the stuff ( over 20 grams = felony). He ended up entering the Air Force as part of an alternate sentence for a drug offense."

    thats less than an ounce!!

    around here under 50 grams of weed is a gross "missie" and adult MJ use is "the lowest priority" for seattle police.
     
  19. DMF

    DMF Member

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    Not true at all. Military members themselves are subject to civilian laws. There are some exceptions to certain laws for government agencies, and for people doing work for government agencies. For example with the exception of those with DV convictions military members are exempt from the prohibitions of 18USC922(g) when possessing a firearm is necessary for their OFFICIAL DUTIES. Therefore a felon could serve in the military and handle guns on duty, but could not possess a firearm not related to their duties. So if they train with, deploy with, an M-16, that would be OK. Going to the local public range to shoot a buddy's personal AR-15 would be a felony.
    That is absolutely not true. Military members retain all the rights and protections of the Constitution. I used to work in military LE and I can assure you military members' Constitutional rights actually get greater protection than civilians.
    True, but as stated earlier they are also subject to civilian laws too. In some cases the county DA, AUSA, and JAG will have to decide which system (state, federal, or military) to prosecute an offender.
     
  20. lamazza

    lamazza Member

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    I believe its considered alright since, in this instance, a weapon is a neccessary tool for the job you are doing.
     
  21. Downr@nge

    Downr@nge Member

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    Isn't the right to bear arms taken away by Due Process when one gets convicted of a (certain ype of) felony?
     
  22. cowssurf

    cowssurf Member

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    treo said: "I'd be willing to bet that there are waaay more felons ( that haven't been caught yet) wearing blue than there are wearing Desert BDUs."

    What's that supposed to mean, treo? Do you mean that a higher percentage of cops lead, or have lead, felonious lives than soldiers? And is that supposed to be an argument for allowing released felons in the military? It's anecdotal at best, and if true, is still a poor argument. Our cops are felons, so our soldiers should be, too? Neither should be felons.

    Furthermore, if we can't field a proper army with good soldiers (and intelligent soldiers--we've compromised those standards too), we shouldn't start a war.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2008
  23. Rmeju

    Rmeju Member

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    To the OP,

    When I was in Baghdad (this was '04) they gave us a mandatory briefing before we were allowed to take our two weeks of leave.

    In part of that brief, they were very careful to warn us not to beat our wives or commit any felonies, because this would bar the military from giving us our guns back.

    Most of the rest of the briefing was to imply that we shouldn't bang any hookers while we were home because they didn't want to have to deal with treating us for STD's.

    I couldn't point you to the code, but you can take that for what it's worth.

    Reid
     
  24. primlantah

    primlantah Member

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    Why is it we have soldiers at 18 years old who cannot purchase a handgun yet many were issued handguns?

    Why is it we have soldiers at 18 years old who can die for our government but not legally drink alcohol?

    :fire:
     
  25. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    When you enter the Armed Services and are on a military installation or under direct command overseas, civilian laws do not apply. The UCMJ rules your life. (Well, the UCMJ and your sergeant.)

    By accepting enlistment, "the system" has tacitly said that any prior misbehavior is not an issue. All that counts is one's future behavior.

    Off-base activity while on pass or on leave, of course, is subject to civilian law. From Rmeju's post, I gather that the military DOES observe the strictures of the Lautenberg Amendment about family abuse--which would be in the category of "future behavior" after enlistment.
     
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