We’ve long been of the opinion that non-violent offenders — whether the crime was a misdemeanor or felony — should have their civil rights (all of them) restored once they’ve done their time. The potential need to defend yourself and your family against threat of death or grievous bodily harm doesn’t disappear when you get out of the big house.
Now, applying the precedent of an earlier ruling the Supreme Court let stand, freebeacon.com’s Stephen Gutowski reports that a federal judge agrees.
Chief Judge Christopher Conner of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that Raymond Holloway’s second misdemeanor DUI conviction in 2005 was not a serious enough crime to result in a lifetime abridgment of one of his constitutional rights. Connor applied the standard set in the landmark case Binderup v. the U.S. Attorney General where the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found those convicted of certain nonviolent offenses can’t be barred from owning firearms for the rest of their lives. He said the government had failed to show that Holloway’s misdemeanor DUI convictions meant he should be disarmed for life.
“Defendants’ evidence fails to account for key characteristics of Holloway and similarly situated persons. They have presented no evidence indicating that individuals like Holloway—after over a decade of virtuous, noncriminal behavior—’remain [so] potentially irresponsible’ that they should be prohibited from owning a firearm,” Conner wrote in his ruling. “The government has not demonstrated a substantial fit between Holloway’s continued disarmament and the important government interest of preventing armed mayhem.”
Holloway was prohibited because his second DUI conviction had a possible sentence of up to five years in jail. And it’s been a decade since the conviction.
The case does not have an immediate effect on anybody other than Holloway—who will see his gun rights restored. It is, however, an indication of how lower courts will handle the precedent set in Binderup. The precedent is only currently only reserved for the Third Circuit, which encompasses Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands.