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May 22, 2009

Notable new Alaska appellate decision on denying gun rights to non-violent felons

Thanks to this post at Volokh, I learned of an interesting new Alaska Court of Appeals decision in Wilson v. Alaska (available here) addressing whether nonviolent felons have any rights under the state's Constitution.  Here are basic parts of the opinion for the court:

The thrust of Wilson’s argument is that the statute prohibiting a felon from possessing a concealable firearm violates article I, section 19 of the Alaska Constitution because it does not differentiate between violent and non-violent felons, and thus is not narrowly tailored to achieve the State’s compelling interest in preventing violent crime. Wilson argues that article I, section 19 guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, and therefore any law that restricts that right must be narrowly tailored to protect a compelling government interest.

Wilson points out that he was convicted of a non-violent, class C felony — theft in the second degree — for fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits. He states that he is a sixty-seven-year-old man who lives in a cabin on a homestead, lives a subsistence lifestyle, and needs a handgun for personal protection. He argues that the State cannot justify restricting his constitutional right to possess a concealable firearm....

[U]nder our prior cases, we have rejected the constitutional challenge that Wilson now brings. Furthermore, other states have consistently rejected similar constitutional challenges.  We accordingly conclude that Judge Wolverton did not err in denying Wilson’s motion to dismiss.

The separate opinions that accompany this somewhat analysis talk through this interesting issue in a lot more detail.

Some related Second Amendment posts:

May 22, 2009 at 06:31 PM | Permalink


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North Carolina has a bill pending I believe its Senate Bill 1444 that would allow non violent felons to hunt. It has not passed but is still pending.

Posted by: Anon | May 24, 2009 12:26:40 PM

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