Appeals court upholds law that bars felons from huntingThose convicted of a felony can't go gun hunting in Wisconsin.
By: By Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Those convicted of a felony can't go gun hunting in Wisconsin. A state appeals court ruling this week clarified the law. But the attorney for the man who challenged it still isn't convinced.
The three judge panel rejected the claim by Thomas Pocian and his attorney Craig Powell that the law banning all felons from possessing firearms is unconstitutionally broad. Attorney Powell says he still hasn't decided whether he'll appeal it. But he says the fact that Mr. Pocian was convicted of forging $1,500 in bad checks 26 years ago when he was 18 shouldn't bar him from hunting now.
"There are reasonable restrictions for people with violent records and histories, but that's not Mr. Pocian and the statute in our view is problematic constitutionally because it sweeps in too many people it is certainly unconstitutional in Mr. Pocian's case given his specific record,” Powell said.
But the state appeals court ruling cites a federal court ruling upholding a categorical ban on felons possessing firearms. Some hopeful hunters with youthful felony records have found relief from the governor's pardon advisory commission. Under past administrations the governor has granted pardons to people with non-violent felonies solely for the purpose of hunting. But Powell says that violates the equal protection clause of the constitution.
"Because you deal with different governors who may impose different standards have different parole boards and commissions who view things differently so it can't be applied equally to all people over time,” he said.
In fact, Gov. Scott Walker recently announced he will not grant any pardons because he believes it's the role of the courts, not the executive branch to forgive people for their crimes.