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I became a felon on my last birthday

'I became a felon on my last birthday'
by Vin Suprynowicz

A sad letter arrived last week. Though I will honor my correspondent's request to help keep his identity secret, this is the kind of missive that makes a columnist's job easy. All the words that follow are those of "Gun Owner in Massachusetts":

The title of your recent column, "The thugs now reign in Massachusetts," has a lot more meaning than perhaps even you realize.

Under a 1998 law, I became a felon on my last birthday. I've never had any contact with the law beyond a speeding ticket some years ago, but by the stroke of a pen I'm now a felon.

I became a felon because I own a gun and I refuse to go to the local police station every four years for mug shots and a full set of fingerprints. I also won't immediately notify the state authorities whenever I move.

If I'd been convicted of murder, the cops would have my fingerprints, but once I finished prison and parole I could live anywhere I wanted without reporting in. But because I own a gun, I am treated far worse than those convicted murderers.

Understand, I'm not talking about carrying a concealed handgun, or even "assault weapons" (though the new law has many draconian punishments for people who dare to own a semi-auto.) Under this law, possession of any) gun, any cartridge (spent or not), any powder, primers, bullets, or shot -- even a can of pepper spray -- requires me to submit to fingerprinting and a mug shot. The data is kept by the state's Criminal History Systems Division -- the same folks who keep the records on murderers, rapists, and other convicted criminals. ...

It gets worse. I'm not only a felon for the 25-year-old 12-gauge pump shotgun that I keep in the closet, I'm a felon for not keeping it locked (and therefore useless) at all times. Locking my front door doesn't count as "preventing unauthorized persons from gaining access to the firearm."

I have no children but the state mandates I render myself completely defenseless to any criminal who cares to rob or kill me. God only knows what will happen to me if I ever have to use the shotgun to defend myself. I suspect I'd end up in prison, paying restitution to the home invader whose "rights" I "violated."

The penalty for each of these new crimes is 10 years in prison. Since I could get charged with a separate count for each round of ammo, that brick of .22 cartridges I bought for my granddad's single-shot match rifle could get me 50,000 years. This is not a theoretical calculation: a Wayland man is facing 70 years for "unsafe storage" of his firearms: seven counts at 10 years each. (Contact for collaboration and details of this case and my statements about the new laws.)

I go to sleep every night wondering if the door will be smashed in by ninja-suited, armored, machine-gun toting thugs willing to kill me where I stand if I so much as reach for that shotgun. It won't really matter much to me then whether they turn out to be free-lance crooks or professional, government-paid murderers. I suppose I should move out of state, but my family has been here for generations; my job is here; and I won't be run off my own property by a bunch of bullies, legal or otherwise.

I'm feeling alone here. The ACLU has abandoned Massachusetts gun owners on the left, and the NRA just betrayed them on the right. ... The ACLU fought the Georgia fingerprint-on-your-drivers-license law vigorously. But a million gun owners are forced, under penalty of fines and imprisonment, to give up their fingerprints, and the ACLU won't even answer my letters on the subject, much less file a court case.

On the right, the National Rifle Association now stands with Handgun Control Inc. in vowing to put people like me behind bars. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard and seen the video recordings on the NRA website. "You touch a gun in Colorado, and you're gonna have five years in a state or federal penitentiary." says Wayne LaPierre, standing on the stage with HCI representatives.

Under their Project Exile, anyone caught with an "illegal" gun gets tried in federal court. What the NRA doesn't seem to understand, or perhaps just doesn't care about, is that here in Massachusetts, my guns were made "illegal" by the stroke of a pen.

I'm scared, Mr. Suprynowicz, I'm angry, and I feel terribly alone. The ACLU turns a blind eye on massive violations of its own principles; the NRA has betrayed all gun owners ... and my own so-called representative co-sponsored this new law.

This must be something akin to what the Jews in Germany felt in the late 1930s. Gun owners have been cut out of the herd, demonized, ostracized, and blamed for everything wrong with society.

The thugs now reign in Massachusetts. They reign in the statehouse, in the courts, in the media, and in the police. One million obedient sheeple have meekly surrendered their fingerprints and now carry state-mandated papers for having the temerity to exercise their inalienable right to self-defense. They might as well make us wear special arm bands.

Thank you, and keep up the good work.

Vin Suprynowicz is one of the most articulate spokesmen serving on the front lines of the Freedom Movement we have. Vin's timely and well written articles are syndicated in newspapers all around the country, and they circulate around the world freely on the Internet and in Libertarian publications. He is the author of Send in the Waco Killers, the book that tells the details the media failed to tell in plain English. The best way to get Vin is to subscribe directly to the e-mail distribution list for his column. Send a request to with "subscribe" in the subject line.

It is an honor to host this man's work, and we encourage you to visit his site and read his book. To read other articles by Vin on this site, click here. You can also see his full archives at these two sites:

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No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him. Thomas Jefferson

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