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A court case in Philadelphia involving a man who lost his Second Amendment rights forever over a DUI is beginning to heat up.

Following a trial in 2005, Edward Williams was convicted of driving under the influence in Pennsylvania. Since he had a previous expunged DUI, the 2005 conviction qualified as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable in Pennsylvania by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Williams was never imprisoned, however, but was placed under house arrest for 90 days, ordered to pay costs and a fine of $1,500, and to complete any recommended drug and alcohol treatment under the mandatory minimum sentence.

Because he had been convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” federal law dictated that Williams could no longer purchase or own a firearm. That resulted in the case Williams v. Garland, which challenges the law that places a lifetime gun ban on some non-violent offenders.

Earlier this month, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), which is supporting the lawsuit, filed a brief in the case, which FPC President Brandon Combs explained quite matter-of-factly.

“The federal Government’s immoral ban is unconstitutional and has no historical basis,” Combs said. “We will continue to work to eliminate this and other gun control laws that separate people from their rights.”

Throughout the brief, the FPC highlighted how the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen ruling made clear that a firearm regulation can be upheld only if the government demonstrates that it did not harm the person’s Second Amendment rights and is consistent with our nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

“Prohibiting Williams from possessing a firearm consequent to a conviction for DUI is a clear violation of his Second Amendment protected right to keep and bear arms, as such prohibition is inconsistent with any longstanding tradition of firearms regulation in the United States,” the brief stated. “It is settled law that the guarantee of the Second Amendment includes ‘the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation (Heller).’”

The brief further stated: “In this matter, the Government has failed to identify any longstanding historical regulation sufficiently analogous to justify the application of the firearms prohibition in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) to an individual convicted of DUI. Instead, the government urges this Court to find in the historical record a sweeping proposition that legislatures may disarm any individuals who have ‘committed serious crimes’ or who they believe ‘would endanger themselves or others’ if they possessed firearms… It also fails to provide any evidence to contradict this Court’s acknowledgement that the earliest federal regulations prohibiting possession of firearms by criminals ‘applied only to violent criminals.’”

The case is scheduled to be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

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48 COMMENTS

  1. If you have completed your sentence all rights should be restored. If you’re too damn dangerous to own a firearm you are too damn dangerous to be walking free.

    • Let’s meet somewhere in the middle. What does a prison sentence prove? It proves that someone was able to stay alive while the state provided them with essentials, including health care. Who’s more likely to commit violent crime, a hardened criminal, or someone who has lived their life without violently messing with people?

      Trust is earned. Any idiot can stay alive in prison. If they want to fully rejoin society, then they have to prove themselves. The length of time that takes, post-prison sentence, should vary based on the seriousness of the crime they committed. That seems reasonable and fair to me.

      • ‘Trust is earned’? Who decides if I am trustworthy enough to exercise my rights? The state? The church? My neighbors?

        Freedom is messy and dangerous.

        • “Freedom is messy and dangerous.”

          Your idea of freedom is messy and dangerous. Mine is not. Frankly, I think it’s silly to be “messy and dangerous” when it’s completely unnecessary. That’s a very liberal/libertarian worldview that excuses unacceptable behavior in return for being able to have “freedom.” I’ve heard you repeat it before. It sounds like an entrenched ideology.

          Let’s think about what freedom is, and why we want it. There are several variations of the following quote which sum up what it should mean:

          “May freedom be seen, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”

          When someone decides to commit a crime, they are deciding to give up certain rights. They aren’t interested in doing what is right. Everyone has the freedom to make that decision for themselves. Is it a priority for you to beat me up and steal my stuff? Okay. Now there are going to be consequences for those actions because we aren’t animals. Do you want those rights back? Okay, now you get to do the time. That time includes both prison and probation because you don’t prove yourself in prison. These aren’t new concepts. They’re forgotten concepts.

            • I thought parole meant that you didn’t have to serve your full sentence in jail. What I meant was that, if you committed a violent crime, you should have some form of probation after getting out, even if you served your full sentence in jail. It should vary depending on the severity of the crime. I’m open to ideas, but that seems reasonable to me.

              We call them correctional facilities, but they don’t always work that way. Look at the recidivism rate for certain offenses. We read about it here all the time. In addition to serving justice, having them locked up works as a practical way to segregate violent people that don’t want to play by the rules. Lock them up, and watch the violent crime rate fall. We’ve done it before.

              BTW, I’m all for forgiveness and second chances. I’m also a realistic person. We have plenty of data for this.

  2. Like most of our elite, FPC cares more about felons than honest citizens.

    I don’t care if the person isn’t a danger. They’ve violated our most serious laws (the definition of felony). They don’t have an innate right to be full citizens ever again. This should remain an issue for legislatures to decide, not courts.

      • Blah blah blah – would you loan a government (or personally) owned handgun to a violent felon (“former”) with which to guard your front door (your wife/kids)?

        • Nope. I’d guard my wife and kids myself, if my only other option was a convicted felon. I’ve known too many convicted felons.

    • Violent and non-violent felons should be treated differently. Not allowing someone to owns guns because your accountant put an expense in the wrong column is beyond silly.

      • Violent Felons should be Lobotomized and returned to their parents.
        They will be meek as lambs for the rest of their lives.

    • May want to check out just how many ways there are to be a felon without resorting to murder, arson, rape, manslaughter, burglary, grand larceny, and aggravated assault.

        • Charged /= committed but it’s easy to skate by if you only commit one crime at a time especially when you don’t realize it.

          • Right, because almost all convicted felons are both knowing felons and repeat felons. I’ve dealt with them a lot in my profession and the bulk are scumbags. I don’t care if even the non-violent ones don’t get to vote or own guns.

            • If I trust them to live in society I expect they are armed the same as I expect those I do not trust to be in society to be armed so non issue on my end felon or not. I would strongly consider Lavrenty Beria’s echoes in the present against your standpoint.

              • By the time you’ve actually been convicted of a serious crime, the specter of Beria is moot. If you think something doesn’t deserve to be considered a serious crime that’s a different thing than the idea that serious crimes should sometimes have lifelong consequences.

                In ether case it should be in the hands of the legislature, not a few unaccountable guys in black robes.

              • Tell me you live in a free state without telling me. Ok got it too hard headed to see other viewpoints or how easily things can come back on you. I don’t disagree that most convicted felons are dirtbags but you may be a bit short sighted in how easily the label can be achieved in this country.

              • “As if these idiots know who Lavrenty Beria is”

                Wrong.

                “Show me the man, I’ll show you the crime.”

                Went to his death groveling on his knees begging for his life…

    • This individual was not convicted of a felony, violent or otherwise. He was convicted of drunk driving, without mention of any accident or death arising therefrom (which would have raised the severity of the crime. Instead, the mere fact that his state may punish this particular misdemeanor with imprisonment for up to five years, unlike other states where imprisonment does not exceed a large fine and 90 days, seems inherently unfair as the loss of a fundamental right is subject to the vagaries of the jurisdiction in which the crime was convicted, not the severity of the crime.

      I was reminded by an article I saw today (but haven’t yet had time to read) that the definition of “felony” has expanded quite a lot over the centuries. Once upon a time, all felonies were punishable by death, and the severity of the crimes included within the category were all violent crimes. Now felonies have expanded to include a vast array of nonviolent crimes, acts which once upon a time may not even have been punishable at law or by more than a fine. Be careful of what you ask for. In China, as one example, in order to feed its lucrative organ transplant business, belonging to Falun Gong is punishable by death so that the state may take your organs for transplantation.

      • Mark some countries execute drunk driver’s. Or they get long sentences in 3rd world hellholes. I know someone whose newborn baby was killed by a drunk driver on the way home from the hospital. He & his wife were seriously hurt. My 46 year old son was born the same day & shared the same room with my wife at the time.

      • That doesn’t change my position. It’s a matter for the legislature to fix, not the courts. Taking the decision out of the peoples’ hands is not the right way to run a republic.

      • “I was reminded by an article I saw today (but haven’t yet had time to read) that the definition of “felony” has expanded quite a lot over the centuries.”

        ACB for one on the high Court is interested in taking such a case, in the not-distant future I think it will happen.

        If it does, new ammo plants will need to be built to handle the demands of 10s of millions of newly-eligible gun owners looking to go shooting… 🙂

    • Post prison, withholding natural, civil and human rights is merely a cheap way of obtaining a life sentence, without the public feeling bad for robbing a fellow citizen. If the public wants to deny rights permanently, it should be required to face up to what it is doing, and stop bitching about government being unfair about anything.

      • Ask any felon and they’ll choose freedom without gun or voting rights over actually being locked up for life. it is not the same as a life sentence. It is just lifetime consequences, which I see nothing wrong with.

        If you disagree with me you should have to make your case in the legislature, not have it ripped out of both our hands by a few guys in black robes.

        Rule by courts is what will truly be the death of US freedom.

        • “…it is not the same as a life sentence. It is just lifetime consequences, which I see nothing wrong with.”

          When the consequences of a conviction last a lifetime, that is the very definition of “life sentence”.

          If the public wants to implement a lifetime ban on anything, the public needs to take responsibility directly and admit their culpability for such…punishing a person for what they might do.

  3. As a convicted non-violent Federal felon who has completed her sentence, Martha Stewart should sue the federal government to get her 2nd amendment rights back. She didn’t do anything Nanci Pelosi hasn’t done 100X more.

  4. Don’t drive while intoxicated. End of story.

    If you are so stupid that you drive intoxicated, then you are too stupid to own a gun.

    I have no sympathy for any moron that drives intoxicated, and neither should the law.

  5. Don’t vote while intoxicated. End of story.

    If you are so stupid that you vote intoxicated, then you are too stupid to own a gun.

    I have no sympathy for any moron that votes intoxicated, and neither should the law.

    Don’t write opinion pieces while intoxicated. End of story.

    If you are so stupid that you write opinion pieces while intoxicated, then you are too stupid to own a gun.

    I have no sympathy for any moron that writes while intoxicated, and neither should the law.

    Don’t practice your religion while intoxicated. End of story.

    If you are so stupid that you practice while you are intoxicated, then you are too stupid to own a gun.

    I have no sympathy for any moron that practices his religion while intoxicated, and neither should the law.

    Let’s see, ,how many other rights can we sweep into Franks’ argument?

  6. Pennsylvania’s laws must be different. I thought DUI’s were misdemeanors, 3= a felony.
    I’ve never heard of a misdemeanor conviction carrying a five year sentence.
    Was his first DUI expunged or set off on a diversion.
    I’ve had two DUI’s and I can buy gunms.
    Some parts of his story seem to be missing.
    Besides it used to be after 10( I think that’s changed to 5to8 now) years you could have your felony conviction expunged as long as it was a non person felony , get the felony conviction expunged and get your Rights restored.
    Time consuming and inconvenient but it is what it is.
    And how strange, just yesterday I was talking to an individual with multiple DUI’s, he went to prison and has had no arrest or citations since being released in 2004.
    He ask if I would sale him a gunm. I told him I didn’t have any even though he could see I was open carrying a 1911.
    I told him go to the gunm shop and buy your own. ” What if I gave you the money, would you get me one?”
    No.
    I told him your still in the criminal mind set, jump through the hoops and do it legal, I don’t break the law and if you can’t get a gunm yur fcked.

    Pennzoil sux

  7. Look up Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines for DUI. 2nd offense is 5 days in jail a $2,500 fine and a year DL suspension.

  8. DUI should be classified as a violent offense on par with attempted manslaughter. 11,000 people a year are killed in the USA by these clowns. If he’ll drive drunk repeatedly, he would carry drunk too.

  9. The intent of the firearm ban for felons was for violent offenses and its been extended down to any crime with a sentence over a year and domestic incidents where one side accuses another without any due process.

    It is all about getting lots of people on the lists and scarung the rest into submission so they also dont end up on the list.

    This hasnt stopped real criminals getting weapons of all.types and committing more crime. Only jail and pine boxes prevent crime.

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