A Self-Evident Truth: All Rights Are Equal

By Dave Yost

It will be a long time before Second Amendment rights are finally treated with the same respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights. But we continue to tip-toe toward intellectual consistency, and the Ohio General Assembly will soon have an opportunity to take another small step.

The issue is called restoration, and I'm told a bill will soon be introduced to address it. The specifics of that bill should be debated vigorously, but the problem it's designed to fix should be fixed.

Under Ohio law, you lose certain rights when you're convicted of a crime - for example, felony prisoners cannot vote, and even a non-violent conviction can keep you from owning a gun. You're supposed to be able to get your rights back if a judge says it's OK - but in Ohio, that doesn't include your Second Amendment rights.

That's because of a court case finds that the technical wording of the Ohio restoration statute does not conform to the federal statute - so the federal government simply ignores Ohio court orders for restoration of rights.

As a prosecutor, I have no problem with a law that says a criminal conviction prevents you from voting or owning a gun. But when a judge has heard the evidence and concluded that you're a fully rehabilitated, law-abiding citizen, the federal government should have to honor the judge's decision.

I've heard stories about Ohio police officers who had a charge in their youth for possession of marijuana who may not be allowed to carry a gun under the federal government's theory.

Rights are dangerous things - wars have started over religion, and governments have been overturned by free speech. The Fourth Amendment has resulted in killers being released onto the streets on technicalities. The possibility of risk is not alone sufficient to seize the rights of a free people.

If we're going to allow a restoration of rights policy, it ought not single out one right over another.

Dave Yost is the Delaware Co., OH prosecuting attorney, and a candidate for Ohio Auditor of State. Find out more at DaveYost.com.

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