A felony conviction shouldn't stop an American from owning a gun—right? So say several US states, including Kansas, Ohio, and Minnesota, which often restore firearm rights automatically to ex-cons, the New York Times reports. Several other states restore gun rights after a pardon or a brief petition. If this sounds surprising, it should: There's a federal law against it dating back to the 1960s. But the NRA backed legislation in the mid-1980s that left the matter essentially up to each state.
Studies show that ex-cons who own guns are more likely to end up charged with another crime—and ones without guns are 20% to 30% less likely. The Times looks at cases of felons who were allowed to buy guns, and found they eventually committed a serious crime—like a drive-by, a pistol-whipping, or the drunken murder of a friend. One pro-gun lobbyist insists that states can stop felons who "should be able to get their gun rights restored," but one ex-con was amazed to get his gun rights back. “It’s kind of spooky, isn’t it?" he says. “We could have all kinds of crazy hoodlums out here with guns that shouldn’t have guns.”