The power of the President to pardon criminals and commute sentences is enshrined in the constitution. This authority is an important part of the checks-and-balances designed by the founders.
Without a doubt, there are people who have been wrongfully convicted or mistreated by the Justice System who are deserving of forgiveness and a second chance at life. The power to grant such clemency with the stroke of a pen rests in the President’s hands.
Barack Obama has the right to free whatever federal inmate he sees fit. In this latest batch of 214 commuted sentences, the White House announced “all of the individuals receiving commutation today, incarcerated under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws, embody the President’s belief that ‘America is a nation of second chances.'”
Of those 214 commuted sentences, 56 were convicted of firearms related crimes.
For a lot of people, that won’t be a deal breaker. A lot of people believe that someone who spent 10 years in prison, primarily for narcotics distribution, he or she shouldn’t have to stay in prison because the prosecutor tacked on “felon in possession of a firearm” charges.
Well, if you are one of those people – or if you’re just curious about how Obama is once again out of his mind – I would like to introduce you to Joshua Boyer.
Joshua Boyer was convicted of felony possession and intent to distribute more than 5 kg of cocaine in 2001. He was sentenced to 288 months (24 years) in Federal prison and 5 years supervised release.
The President uses this case as an example to show how insanely harsh sentencing puts people behind bars for far too long.
I looked it up and I was completely surprised. Felony possession and intent to distribute 5 kg of cocaine is punishable by up to life in prison. I know, that is actually a little scary.
In the case of a violation of subsection (a) of this section involving— (ii) 5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of… cocaine… such person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 10 years or more than life…
He didn’t just have any gun… Joshua Boyer violated 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and 5871, which makes it a felony to “receive or possess a firearm which is not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.”
Now, us gun owners know exactly what this means. He illegally possessed an unregistered NFA weapon.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 regulated the ownership of machine guns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, silencers/suppressors, and other destructive devices. The law requires extra vetting – beyond a normal NICS check at your local gun store – and a payment of a $200 tax to register the weapon with the ATF.
If you go through 18 U.S.C. § 924, you see that an extra sentence is applied if an illegally owned and unregistered NFA weapon is used in furtherance of narcotics distribution.
Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime— (i) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years; (ii) if the firearm is brandished, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years; and (iii) if the firearm is discharged, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years. (B)
If the firearm possessed by a person convicted of a violation of this subsection—
(i) is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years; or
(ii) is a machinegun or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 30 years.
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