Some of my readers who were paying attention to national politics in 2005 (approximately the year I started paying attention to national politics) may remember Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) and the many, many bribes he accepted. He will be getting out of prison in June of next year, having completed a 100-month sentence for engaging in bribery. What’s his first priority when he gets out of the big house? Getting his gun rights back.
Cunningham plans to move to a cabin near Greers Ferry Lake, located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. (This may be regrettable, but all I know of the Ozarks is what I saw in the trailer for Winter’s Bone, so his chosen location raises a red flag for me right away.) He says he will need a gun to hunt for his food, defend himself against large wild animals and raise money for living expenses in shooting competitions. Too bad the Gun Control Act of 1968 prevents most ex-felons from owning guns.
If Cunningham wanted to seek an exemption under that law, he would have to go through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) as well as the Treasury department to do it, although Congress has refused to authorize funding for such exemptions since 1992. Currently no exemption exists for hunters or sport shooters. I suppose you could argue that Cunningham wasn’t convicted of a violent offense, and should at least be given consideration for an exemption.
But just because he received a felony charge for a non-violent reason, doesn’t mean he won’t engage in violence later. Consider:
- that both of his ex-wives filed restraining orders against him, the second of the two calling him “very aggressively spontaneously assaultive”;
- that he said both Vietnam War protesters and the Democratic House leadership should be “lined up and shot”;
- and that in trying to justify his exemption, he pointed out that, as a naval aviator in Vietnam, he “flew aircraft that could disintegrate your building with a half second burst . . .”
Nicely done, Duke. That’s great imagery to evoke when you want your rights back.
If a felon had young children to feed and was unable to uproot them from a location where they depended on hunting, then I might go easier on the felon ban. But Cunningham chose to live in the Ozarks on his own. Besides, the town of Heber Springs should be fairly close by and offers five well-known fast food joints and a Wal-Mart Supercenter. So I don’t expect him to be hard up for food or cheaply made furniture.