The 2nd Amendment grant all people a right to bear arms:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

However felons are somehow denied that right. Ignoring whether it would be desirable to have armed felons, then why would that not be unconstitutional?

  • 2
    Felons can be denied all sorts of rights. Because they have been convicted of a crime, the denial has been brought about by due process of law. In addition to the right to vote, felons can also be deprived of their property, their liberty, and their lives.
    – phoog
    Feb 7, 2016 at 6:59
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    @phoog -- where in the constitution is it written that some people can have their constitutional rights taken away?
    – Soren
    Feb 7, 2016 at 7:18
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    It's in the fifth amendment. The guarantee against being "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" implies that with due process of law, a person can be deprived of these. How this relates precisely to the second amendment, I am not sure; hence the comment rather than answer.
    – phoog
    Feb 7, 2016 at 7:28
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    @Mr.A Sort of. They can compel you to answer questions, but must give you immunity from the use of your testimony (or any evidence derived from your testimony) in a criminal case.
    – cpast
    Feb 7, 2016 at 15:21
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    The denial of the right to vote to felons actually derives from several other constitutional provisions pertaining the state establishment of the franchise and apportionment of Congressional seats which is not modified by any of the subsequent amendments due to their careful wording, rather than primarily from the 5th Amendment (which doesn't apply directly to the states anyway) or from the 14th Amendment due process clause (which incorporates many federal rights vis-a-vis the states).
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 31, 2017 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited ... Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

(emphasis mine)

  • Technically dicta, but a good observation nonetheless.
    – Viktor
    Feb 7, 2016 at 21:56
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    Not only technically dicta, but explicitly dicta. This doesn't mean anything except that SCOTUS didn't address it--no court in the country is going to cite it to defend the prohibition on firearms, all it does is stop Heller from being used directly.
    – Tom
    Feb 8, 2016 at 2:19
  • (Well, "no court in the country" might be a bit extreme--but certainly no appeals court, and they're the ones who would realistically be making the decision.)
    – Tom
    Feb 8, 2016 at 23:11

I believe the question of felons in possession of weapons in relation to the second amendment has most certainly been carefully crafted by the supreme court in order to uphold the power of the federal government to restrict the r rights of free people. There is no way to get around the wording in the second amendment. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. So the question there and should be when does a convicted felon, be released from all punishments associated with his crime. Also it should be asked if convicted of a felony is ones citizenship suspended indefinitely because of the crime? These are some of the obstacles of questions needed to be answered, yet Justice Scalia as the other justices failed to address. Without doing so the reality is there is strong reasoning that felons should be given their right to bear arms.

  • Would you analogously say that the 1st Amendment forbids laws against threatening and fraud?
    – user6726
    Dec 31, 2017 at 16:11
  • @user6726 no, I wouldn’t. Would you?
    – user15669
    Feb 28, 2018 at 11:56
  • ^Fake news......
    – A.fm.
    Nov 19, 2018 at 8:32

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