Well this is an unexpected turn of events. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that in order to prosecute a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, it must be shown that the person knew that having a gun was illegal.
The Supreme Court says prosecutors must prove that people charged with violating federal gun laws knew they were not allowed to have a weapon. The government says the decision could affect thousands of prosecutions of convicted criminals who are barred from having a firearm.
The court ruled 7-2 Friday in the case of a foreign student from the United Arab Emirates who took target practice at a Florida shooting range, even though he had been dismissed from the Florida Institute of Technology and was in the United States illegally. He was prosecuted under a law that bars people who are in the country illegally from having guns. …
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion that the law at issue requires prosecutors to show both that the person had a gun and knew he shouldn’t.
Otherwise, Breyer said, the law could ensnare someone “brought into the United States unlawfully as a small child and was therefore unaware of his unlawful status.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in a dissent that was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas that the decision “opens the gates to a flood of litigation that is sure to burden the lower courts.”
– Associated Press in Supreme Court says prosecutors must prove that people knew they couldn’t have guns