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Government can't keep a felon's guns, Supreme Court rules

As some of you may know, federal law prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition. Violation of this law can result in up to 10 years in prison though the sentence can be escalated to 15 years if the individual has been convicted three or more times for a violent offense. Here in Missouri, our gun control laws for felons are just as severe, seemingly barring even non-violent felons, which is something we pointed out in a September post last year.

People who have been convicted of a felony may find it alarming that they can never own or possess a firearm because of state and federal gun control laws. But what may be far more disconcerting is the fact that many jurisdictions have been known to seize firearms from convicted felons on the premise that they are eliminating the risk that the felon may use the gun irresponsibly. Unfortunately, this seemingly good deed is actually creating problems for convicted felons.

We can see this by looking at a U.S. Supreme Court case where the government seized a gun collection from a man who had been convicted of a felony. Because many of the guns were family heirlooms, the man wanted his family members to gain possession of the firearms. Unfortunately, the government wouldn't return the weapons, which led to the appeal to our nation's highest court.

Though some might have considered the law stacked against the man, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. As the court explained, the purpose of the federal law gun control law is to "keep firearms away from felons," which is something the man was trying to do by transferring ownership. By refusing to return the weapons, the government was prohibiting the man from doing such actions like leaving the weapons in a will or trust for his children. This was something the court felt was an overreach on the government's part, which is why it ruled the way it did.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "SCOTUS Puts Brakes on Feds Seizing Felon's Guns," Dan McCue, May 18, 2015

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