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Good in one case, good in another

By Staff | Jun 16, 2020

To the editor:

I read with interest Howard Simon’s guest commentary on “The governor, federal courts and right to vote” in the June 10 issue of the Island Reporter. I also listened to his program during a recent Zoom meeting of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club.

I fundamentally disagree with the premise that a felon’s debt to society is paid when he or she has completed the prison sentence and probation and that voting rights should be restored regardless of the ability to pay any court-ordered restitution. A reasonable person should know that if he or she commits a felony and is caught, the sentence upon conviction includes permanent forfeiture of his or her voting rights. They should know that going in. And if they know that going in and still commit the crime, they must not care about their voting rights, anyway. But the courts appear to have come down on Mr. Simon’s side, so I’ll have to get used to the idea.

But since Mr. Simon favors restoring constitutional rights to felons upon completion of their sentence, I wonder how he feels about restoring another constitutional right a convicted felon loses: the right to keep and bear arms. That is certainly just as important and fundamental and basic a right as the right to vote. If I am convicted of a felony, short of murder or a felony sex offense, I lose my right to own a firearm. If I am convicted of violating federal or state game laws, felony or not, I risk permanent forfeiture of my weapons and hunting privileges. And I know that going in. Why should I not have that constitutional right restored upon completion of my sentence? What is good in the one case should be good in the other.

William H. Harkey