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Guns Don’t Kill People. Ballots Kill People.

Original photo by Chris Phan

Original photo by Chris Phan

Considering how blasé the right is about letting suspected terrorists buy guns, and even explosives, I suppose this shouldn’t be much of a surprise:

Under federal law, people with felony convictions forfeit their right to bear arms. Yet every year, thousands of felons across the country have those rights reinstated, often with little or no review. In several states, they include people convicted of violent crimes, including first-degree murder and manslaughter, an examination by The New York Times has found.


Ken Hanson, legislative chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Coalition, argued that felons should be able to reclaim their gun rights just as they can other civil rights.

“If it’s a constitutional right, you treat it with equal dignity with other rights,” he said.

My first thought was “Oh right, just like the right to vote, which conservatives hold so sacred.”  Except, as it happens, there is no actual right to vote in the Constitution.  There are amendments saying you can’t prohibit someone from voting based on race, sex or age, but nothing that says you can’t stop someone from voting because they’re an ex-con, or because they can’t make it to a DMV 50 miles away to get a photo ID card, or because you sent them a letter that was returned.

The Constitution guarantees everyone the right to own deadly weapons, but not the right to decide who governs and represents us, and hardly anyone seems to mind.’s Right To Vote Amendment has something like 50 or 60 sponsors in Congress, and I don’t think I had even heard of it until today.  As opposed to, say, the Balanced Budget (Tax & Spending Cuts Only) Amendment, which is a Republican cause célèbre.

What does it say about our priorities as a country – and as a democracy – that the right to own guns is more fundamental and sacred than the right to vote?  Or that the need for an insane “balanced budget” amendment is more urgent than the need for one that guarantees the right to vote?

Maybe it says that letting everyone vote is a lot more dangerous to the 1% than letting everyone own guns.

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