A Picayune gun manufacturer and firearm dealer wants felons to have the right to bear arms restored once they have served their time.
“Punishing anyone for possessing the means of self-defense violates our God-given rights,” said Kelly Firearms manager Tavish Kelly in a news release. “If someone is too dangerous to be trusted with his own self-defense, then keep him locked up. But if we believe he should be back on the street, restore his rights. Our Constitution doesn’t let the government make someone a second-class citizen.”
A release by Kelly said the firm opposes legislation proposed by state Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-40, calling for the bill to be withdrawn. Burkes hasn't filed the bill yet but she posted the first page on her Facebook page last night.
"This is the first bill I'm dropping," she wrote. "In the wake of the Hattiesburg police shootings and other incidents against the innocent.... I'm doing this for the guys and ladies in blue who deal with the same criminals over and over and over. I hope it goes through. A police chief in South Mississippi asked me to do this."
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That started quite an argument. Hill replied that she was open to suggestions to improve the bill.
Kelly said Hill’s bill aims to increase penalties for felons caught in possession of a firearm. While the full text containing the additional penalties sought has not yet been published, they are expected to be harsher than the current maximum of a ten-year incarceration and $5,000 fine.
Restrictions on felon gun rights originate with the Gun Control Act, signed by President Johnson in 1968, Kelly wrote in his release. Since then, states have passed their own similar laws.
Mississippi law allows ex-convicts to apply for a “certificate of rehabilitation” from the court where he was convicted. If granted, the certificate restores the right to keep and bear arms, Kelly said. In practice, Kelly said, these applications are rarely approved, as many elected judges are afraid of looking “soft” on criminals.