Barney Britt is a longtime outdoorsman and hunter who once claimed a trophy for shooting the third largest deer in North Carolina history. Now the resident of the town of Garner, a short drive south of Raleigh, N.C., can claim a different type of trophy: he faced off against the government over gun rights, and he won.
Some background: Britt pleaded guilty to felony possession of methaqualone (aka quaaludes) in 1979, when he was 20 years old. Now he's 49 years old, has no subsequent criminal history, and there's no evidence he's violent or dangerous today. In fact, he peaceably owned firearms from 1987 to 2004.
What exactly was the right that had to be restored? What did he lose by becoming a convicted felon? If he "peaceably owned firearms" after his conviction and became a famous hunter and outdoorsman, what was lacking?
In 2004, the North Carolina General Assembly rewrote the law to deny possession of any firearm to anyone convicted of a felony, even if the guns were kept at their homes or businesses. So Britt filed a lawsuit claiming his rights -- not his Second Amendment rights, but those protected by the state constitution -- were violated by the new law.
Is that to say that prior to 2004 convicted felons in NC were not subject to losing their right to bear arms? Does that mean that during those years all the convicted felons who weren't able to turn their lives around like Mr. Britt were able to own guns? I'll bet that resulted in some repeat offenders, what do you think?
What's your opinion? Is this a good law, that convicted felons should be deprived of their rights? Did the State of North Carolina do good in making an exception in the case of Mr. Britt?
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