Ban on felons carrying firearms includes antique guns, court rules
27 January 2012
The U.S. Constitution and the Nevada Constitution both give citizens the right to bear arms.
But the Nevada Supreme Court said Thursday that right doesn't extend to convicted felons. And that prohibition in Nevada applies to antique and muzzle-loading replica firearms.
Michael Pohlabel, an ex-felon, was arrested in Elko County with a black-powder rifle in the back seat of his car. The weapon is a type that must be loaded by hand each time a shot is fired, takes at least 45 seconds to load and is hard to conceal.
The court noted that federal law excludes antique and muzzle-loading replica firearms, including black-powder rifles, from the list of weapons prohibited to ex-felons.
But the court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Kristina Pickering, said Nevada law prohibits a felon from possessing any firearm, whether it is "loaded or unloaded, operable or inoperable." Pickering wrote, "While the federal law currently permits felons to possess black powder rifles, that does not mandate that Nevada follow suit."
The decision upholds the conviction of Pohlabel, who pleaded guilty to being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm but reserved the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Pohlabel maintained the possession of the black-powder rifle did not make him a threat. He had been convicted seven years earlier of possession of a controlled substance.
He argued that the prohibition of holding firearms should not apply to a nonviolent felon.
But Pickering said a felon loses many civil rights, including the right to serve on jury, hold a public office, be employed in sensitive positions such as a peace officer or licensed school teacher or possess firearms.
Pohlabel has been free pending the Supreme Court's ruling. He was sentenced to 12 to 34 months on his guilty plea.
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