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Federal Court Holds Some Lifetime Firearm Prohibitions Unconstitutional

Friday, September 9, 2016

Federal Court Holds Some Lifetime Firearm Prohibitions Unconstitutional

On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that some individuals who have been denied their right to keep and bear arms might be able to recover their rights.  

Unlike the rights to vote or to hold public office, which are often restored upon completion of sentence, restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms last long after completion of sentence and often extend to a lifetime ban.  This is the case for even some non-violent misdemeanor convictions, and that is what the plaintiffs in this case challenged.  

While the federal prohibition on criminals possessing firearms is often described as applying to felons, it actually applies to certain misdemeanors as well, including non-violent ones.  And the prohibition applies even where the actual sentence doesn’t include any amount of imprisonment. 

The plaintiffs in this case completed their sentences (which didn’t include imprisonment), went on to live law-abiding lives for many years, and even had their firearm rights restored under Pennsylvania law.  However, due to a convoluted interpretation by federal courts, the federal prohibition on firearm possession can continue to apply even after a person has had their rights restored by their state. 

Given these facts, the Third Circuit found that the plaintiffs had “[distinguished] their crimes of conviction from those that historically led to exclusion from Second Amendment protections.”  With their Second Amendment rights intact, the government had the burden to prove a governmental interest in continuing to apply the complete firearm prohibition to the plaintiffs.  The court held that the government failed to meet this burden because it provided little evidence that the plaintiffs presented any danger to society. 

The potential for review of this case by the Supreme Court reaffirms the importance of filling the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s still-vacant spot on the Court with a justice who will be a stalwart defender of the right to keep and bear arms. 

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In 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court famously wrote:  “the power to tax involves the power to destroy ….”

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

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NRA Victory in Washington

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Anti-Gun Organization Prepared to Launch National Group of Gun Owners Who Apparently Don’t Like Guns

Yes, that title doesn’t make much sense, but neither does a group that promotes banning firearms starting a national organization called Gun Owners for Safety. Nonetheless, The Hill recently reported that the anti-gun group Giffords is doing just ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

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Americans have made clear that they value their Second Amendment rights, especially during uncertain times. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and then widespread civil unrest, Americans have bought firearms in record numbers. Through September, the FBI ...

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Gun Controllers Try to Hide Joe Biden’s Anti-gun Extremism

With Fall 2020 upon us it is time again for gun control advocates’ quadrennial tradition – dishonestly attempting to convince voters that a brazenly anti-gun presidential ticket does not pose a threat to gun owners. ...

2020 Democratic Party Platform Declares Total War on Second Amendment Rights

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Monday, August 3, 2020

2020 Democratic Party Platform Declares Total War on Second Amendment Rights

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.