- Circuit Court of Appeals rules that a prohibition on firearm ownership for non-violent felons is unconstitutional.
- The case involves an individual named Range who was denied his right to own a firearm for over 25 years due to a state felony conviction.
- The court argues that there should be a distinction between non-violent felons and those who have committed violent crimes.
- The prohibition in question is under 18 USC 922 G1, which considers certain crimes punishable by over a year in jail as felonies.
- The decision highlights the need to challenge individual prohibitions based on specific crimes and their constitutionality.
- The court references the recent New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case, which established a new standard for evaluating firearms laws.
In a landmark decision, the Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a prohibition on firearm ownership for non-violent felons is unconstitutional. The case, styled Range v. Attorney General of the United States, challenged the long-standing practice of denying individuals their right to own a firearm based on non-violent felony convictions. The court's decision has sparked a debate about the blanket prohibition on firearm ownership and the need to differentiate between non-violent felons and those who have committed violent crimes.
Background: The case centers around an individual named Range, who had been denied his right to own a firearm for over 25 years due to a state felony conviction. Range's conviction stemmed from a plea deal he took when his wife incorrectly filled out an application form for a state welfare program. Despite the non-violent nature of his offense, Range found himself categorized as a felon, resulting in the loss of his firearms rights. He argued that the federal probation, which led to the denial of his firearms rights, should be deemed unconstitutional.
Understanding the Prohibition: The prohibition in question is outlined in 18 USC 922 G1, which states that individuals convicted of a crime subject to imprisonment for more than a year are considered felons and are thereby prohibited from owning firearms. However, the court highlighted the discrepancy between state and federal laws, where certain misdemeanors can be considered felonies under federal law if they are punishable by more than two years. Range's case fell under this category, as his state misdemeanor was punishable by up to five years. The court questioned the fairness of labeling non-violent offenders as felons and subjecting them to the same prohibition as individuals convicted of violent crimes.
Challenging the Constitutionality: The court's ruling emphasized the need to challenge individual prohibitions based on the specific crimes and their constitutionality. It highlighted that the existing prohibition fails to differentiate between non-violent felons and those convicted of heinous crimes like murder or armed robbery. The court argued that an overbroad prohibition should not lump non-violent felons together with individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety. It stressed the importance of distinguishing between these categories when considering firearms rights.
Implications and Legal Standards: The decision in Range v. Attorney General of the United States demonstrates the impact of the recent Supreme Court case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which established a new standard for evaluating firearms laws. The court explained that under the Bruen case, firearms regulations should be evaluated based on whether they were regulated at the time of the Second Amendment's adoption in 1791. This presumption places the burden on the government to prove that a particular regulation was historically justified. The court noted that the Bruen case provided a legal standard for critically examining firearms laws and moving away from simply deferring to legislative decisions.
Conclusion: The Circuit Court's ruling in Range v. Attorney General of the United States has challenged the constitutionality of the blanket prohibition on firearm ownership for non-violent felons. The decision highlights the need to differentiate between non-violent offenders and those convicted of serious crimes when considering firearms rights. It also underscores the importance of individually challenging the constitutionality of specific prohibitions. As the debate on gun control continues, cases like Range serve as significant milestones in shaping the interpretation and application of the Second Amendment.