Ban on felons carrying firearms includes antique guns, court rules

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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  1. "The U.S. Constitution and the Nevada Constitution both give citizens the right to bear arms."

    Ryan -- wrong. Both Constitutions protect this liberty, neither creates it.

    But like every other protection our courts are just like every other branch of government, treating the very Constitutions each official and officer have sworn oaths to support, defend and protect as a mere list of suggestions.

    Considering how easy it is to become a felon, and how many laws are being passed with criminal penalties, this is a dire situation for us all.

    "Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rulemaking or legislation which would abrogate them." -- Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491 (1966)

  2. "Today's felons are tomorrow's revolutionists"

    Harley -- wow! I'm impressed!

    My son is a double felon for basically accepting charity from someone he met on the street. I went through the entire court process with him. Not only did it change his life, it changed mine. Up to then -- 1998 -- I had some trust in at least the criminal justice system with its many Constitutional guarantees and hurdles. He was processed, not prosecuted. I now despise the courts and what they do to us.

    In court Wednesday for my traffic trial I watched a young hispanic man become a felon in the making. He took the prosecutor's deal to stay out of jail on a domestic violence charge. Little did he know if he's ever busted even with ammunition in his possession it's a federal felony.

    Federal felonies include crossing the state line with more than $5,000 cash in your possession. Or unlicensed dentures.

    But who's listening to any of this? Worse, who's going to do anything about it but complain here? That's why I call them the herd.

    "Where once the criminal law might have stood as a well-understood and indisputable statement of shared norms in American society, now there is only a bloated compendium that looks very much like the dreaded federal tax code. The end results can be downright ugly: a soccer mom thrown in jail in a small Texas town for failing to wear a seatbelt; a 12-year-old girl arrested and handcuffed for eating french fries in a Metro station in Washington, DC; and defendants serving 25-year to life sentences in California prisons for, among other things, pilfering a slice of pizza." -- "Overextending the Criminal Law" @