The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled on recently that the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects non-violent offenders from federal firearm bans, reported the Jurist. The case resulted from Bryan Range’s appeal from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Circuit Judge Thomas M. Hardiman authored the
opinion of the court. The court ruled that under new US Supreme Court precedent
from New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen,
the federal government “did not carry its burden of showing that our Nation’s
history of firearm regulation supports disarming Range.” Under this new
framework, “only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this Nation’s
historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls
outside the Second Amendment’s unqualified command.” The burden is on the
government to prove that its regulation is part of the Nation’s tradition.
Range had a prior non-violent conviction that was
punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. Under 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1), convicts cannot buy firearms through interstate commerce if
they were convicted of a crime “punishable” by an imprisonment term exceeding
one year. This law prevented Range from purchasing a gun after his conviction.
Range then sued, seeking a declaration that the statute violated the Second
Amendment “as applied to him.” The district court dismissed Range’s
claim based on prior Third Circuit precedent and before the Bruen case
came out. At the time, the Third Circuit had a five-step test to determine if a
crime was serious enough to take away a convict’s gun rights. The court ruled
that Range failed the test because there was “no cross-jurisdictional consensus
as to the seriousness of the crime” that Range was convicted for.
Circuit Judge Patty Shwartz wrote a dissenting
opinion. While the majority opinion noted that its decision is a “narrow one,”
Shwartz asserts that the court’s decision will have a wide-ranging impact.
Shwartz argued that the new analytical framework that the Third Circuit adopted
renders “most, if not all, felon bans unconstitutional.”
Gun rights continue to be a tumultuous issue across
the US, with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently signing
control measures into law.
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