By Alan Judd
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published Aug. 24, 2014
Even before he sexually assaulted a domestic violence victim, before she said he tried to sodomize her with his police-issued pistol, Dennis Krauss was a bad cop.
His record was filled with allegations of misconduct: that he beat a prisoner so severely the man’s brain bled; that he threatened to fabricate charges against a suspect so he could sleep with the man’s wife; that he pressured at least 10 women for sex to avoid arrest. He supposedly called that offer “private community service.”
“He’s a predator, ” said Susan Thornton, the prosecutor who sent Krauss to prison for sexual assault. “I don’t believe people like that ought to go out on the street with guns.”
And yet, Krauss has the right to do exactly that — with the state of Georgia’s blessing.
At a time when public debate over firearms laws often begins and ends at bad guys with guns versus good guys with guns, Georgia is muddying the waters by enabling record numbers of felons to legally re-arm themselves, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles restored the firearms rights of more than 1,400 felons between 2008 and 2013. Last year alone, the board granted 666 pardons that restored gun rights, a tenfold increase from six years earlier.
At the same time, the board has dramatically increased the proportion of gun-rights pardons going to violent offenders like Krauss, the Journal-Constitution found. In 2008, such offenders received 6 percent of all Georgia gun-rights pardons. By 2013, they accounted for 31 percent.
Of the 358 violent felons who regained their gun rights over the six years, 32 had killed another person and 166 were convicted of drug-related offenses. Forty-four committed sex crimes, including seven who are listed on the state’s sex offender registry.
All are free to buy, sell, own or carry firearms without restriction, as if their crimes had never happened.
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