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Back in 1995, Bryan Range pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining $2,458 in food stamps by misrepresenting his income. He returned the money, paid a $100 fine and $288 in court costs, and served three years of probation.

Although Range did not realize it, that Pennsylvania misdemeanor conviction also came with a lifelong penalty: He lost his constitutional right to keep and bear arms. His case, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit will hear next month, poses the question of whether that policy, which prohibits gun ownership by millions of Americans with no history of violence, violates the Second Amendment.

Federal law generally makes it a felony to purchase or possess a gun if you have been convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year of incarceration. When a state classifies a crime as a misdemeanor, that disqualification applies if the maximum penalty exceeds two years. …

Range’s initial confusion about his status is not surprising, since the rule he inadvertently violated does not make much sense. Although it is ostensibly aimed at protecting public safety, it does not require any evidence of violent tendencies.

In a November 16 decision that was vacated last week, a 3rd Circuit panel said that policy nevertheless is “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation”—the constitutional test that the Supreme Court says gun laws must pass. Surveying the history of status-based gun prohibitions from 17th-century England through ratification of the Second Amendment, the panel perceived a pattern of disarming people “who did not respect the law,” whether or not they posed a violent threat.

A brief that the Firearms Policy Coalition submitted on Range’s behalf reaches a strikingly different conclusion. “Historically, firearm prohibitions applied to dangerous persons,” the brief says. “There is no tradition in American history of banning peaceable citizens from owning firearms.”

That [take] jibes with a 2019 dissent that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. “Legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns,” she said. “But that power extends only to people who are dangerous.”

Barrett thought a felony mail fraud conviction was not enough to justify the permanent loss of Second Amendment rights. If the full 3rd Circuit agrees with Barrett’s reasoning after it rehears Range’s case, it is apt to conclude that the same goes for his misdemeanor welfare fraud conviction.

— Jacob Sullum in The 3rd Circuit Considers Whether Nonviolent Crimes Justify the Loss of Second Amendment Rights

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39 COMMENTS

    • Their focus is more on the guns than the person, like red flag laws which snatch away all the dangerous weapons… actually, just that guns… who cares if they have swords, knives, bats, chainsaws, poison, etc… meanwhile leave the dangerous person on the loose.

      With the loss of rights, again, they have no problem releasing habitual violent offenders and with bail “reform”, even dangerous criminals with known violent histories. Just take away the gun rights, that will be enough.

      I think the violent and dangerous criminals should be punished, and if a former criminal has had appropriate punishment and is back in society, they should be able to get their rights back. If they are still a threat, they should be in jail.

    • Maybe they should just convict violent criminals and put them in jail. If you turn them loose then they should be done with their punishment, that is true criminal justice reform, not the BS the idiot left continues to push.

    • Desperation, I would imagine one plan would be to create charges and conditions where normal citizens can’t help but break a law somewhere and use that to strip rights “legally”. Take that away and they have to consider more grim options for disarmament.

    • Because the majority of law in this country was transplanted here directly from English Common Law. All of the reasoning, logic, and philosophy of our law was pulled from English law. And, because the Supreme Court stated explicitly that when courts are deciding 2A cases, they must look for historical justification for their decisions.

      • Problem is common law rather clearly defines felonies and not all the rights restriction crimes fit that criteria.

      • Except the window they’re supposed to be looking at, according to the Supreme Court, is 1791-1868. Our history, beginning with the adoption of the Bill of Rights and ending with the adoption of the 14th Amendment.

        • “Our history, beginning with the adoption of the Bill of Rights and ending with the adoption of the 14th Amendment.”

          About the same period the nation was described as “The United States are…”, rather than after the 14th: “The United States is….”

    • “Why are they considering laws from another country during a time that this one did not exist?”

      A very good question, and here’s the answer –

      The Leftist Scum *desperately* want America to be ‘civilized’, like Europe. In court rulings, those of that ilk have been pulling up laws from all over the place that match that ideology, and are quoting them in their anti-logical twisted and sick rulings.

      If a whack-job ‘law’ anywhere on the planet matches the totalitarian regime they want to impose on us, they will use that vehicle to do it.

      Expect more of the same in the future *here*… 🙁

  1. What is the difference between a felony, and a misdemeanor?

    Depends on what the legislature decides it is. There is no cosmic, unassailable, objective standard.

    And why bother with misdemeanors, anyway? Life is simplified if every law is adjucated as a felony.

    And thinking on it a but further, why so many ladders of punishment? You violate a law, are convicted, you spend the rest of your life in jail. Equity at last.

    Maybe the “no jail for anything” crowd will save us yet.

    • “You violate a law, are convicted, you spend the rest of your life in jail. Equity at last.”

      Perfect! There’s your equity libtards.

      • “Related to Beria, Comrade?”

        You underestimate. Anyone who doesn’t believe what I believe, exactly as I believe it should be denied all human rights, without recourse.

        The cheaper retaliation would be to terminate resisters/opponents with extreme prejudice. A more efficient methodology is to place resisters/opponents in prisions, with names and a complete inventory of body parts taken.

        This registry would provide medical specialists with a wide array of available organs for transfer (if there are two of an organ, only one can be taken). Such a law would save many lives, and restore natural capability to untold others. People who want the advantage of widely available organ transplants dare not disagree with me.

  2. ” a pattern of disarming people “who did not respect the law,””

    Nonsense. Few people respect the law, especially when the law makes no sense, and/or harms the average law-abiding citizen. I have zero respect for hundreds of laws. I have only a very, very, VERY slight respect for laws that have outlived their usefulness. So – I should have my weapons confiscated?

    Sheriffs and judges knew that thousands of years ago. People don’t respect laws, they instead respect how laws are judiciously applied.

    In view of the fact that today’s progressive prosecutors are utterly failing to punish the dangerous elements of society, it makes no sense that they would want to punish the non-dangerous elements of society.

    Someone makes an innocent mistake on their taxes, and is ultimately convicted of tax fraud loses his/her weapons? Got into a bar brawl, didn’t even use a weapon, got convicted, so you lose your weapons? Failed to pay traffic tickets, a judge decides to hammer you for it, you lose your weapons? Oh yeah – the ex-wife or boyfriend calls the law about you, you lose your weapons.

    There’s a common theme here. Disarm the citizenry.

  3. If I go back to the 70’s I spent a night in the slammer for contempt of court. Dumbazz ex-wife got me because I didn’t pay her lawyer in a divorce. Which was total bs as I paid child support up to date! Thank God it didn’t wreck my life. This dude should win back his “rights”!

  4. “Surveying the history of status-based gun prohibitions from 17th-century England through ratification of the Second Amendment, the panel perceived a pattern of disarming people “who did not respect the law,” whether or not they posed a violent threat.”

    That’s a stupid claim in support of a gun law. The Founders fought a revolution and ratified the 2nd Amendment because of (among many other things) England’s infringement on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

    In analyzing the historical foundation of gun control laws, only American laws from the Founding era, enforced after the ratification of the 2nd Amendment, provide justification. Further, Bruen requires. that the Founding era laws also must affect a large proportion of the population; not just some unconstitutional law from some hick town with a tiny population.

    • The English “Bill of Rights” (1689) has a clause along the lines: “Those subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their class, and according to law.”

      This was ‘the law’ in the English colonies in North America. So, pre-revolution, religion and wealth played a part in who could be armed, and Parliament could change the “Right” at their will.

      That’s why the US version ends “… shall not be infringed.”

  5. If your sentence has been served you deserve to have your rights restored. Period. Only the Fascists like miner and dacian want lifetime bans.

  6. I hope dude is in better financial shape now, cause if you need assistance, maybe you shouldn’t spend money on arms and ammunition. If arms are inherited or gifted to him I have no problem with him having 2a rights. I do have a problem with 2a rights for habitual criminals, even if misdemeanors, but I don’t know that it’s the case here.

  7. I do not see a sane court upholding denying a Constiutional Right providing the offender has not displayed tendencies to be violent or have repeated DUIs, etc. As it stands with something on the level of food stamps it is backdoor Gun Control.

    • Unfortunately, the same SCOTUS we have today denied cert about two years ago in two test cases raising **exactly** this issue (which shocked me at the time), so hard to say whether there are 5 votes on SCOTUS for this.

      Complicating matters . . . Third Circuit grants en banc reconsideration when a majority of active status judges so vote. Right now, there are 7 GOP-nominated Third Circuit judges and 6 dems, with one seat currently vacant. Now, typically only active status judges on a circuit can sit on the en banc court. BUT . . . under the Third Circuit Internal Operating Procedures, if a Senior Status Judge was on the panel for the case that’s being reheard en banc, that judge also has the option to participate in the en banc court.

      In the panel opinion in this case, there were two Obama-appointed active status judges, plus one senior status Bush II appointee (Jane Roth) . . . who voted with the majority upholding the lifetime ban for a nonviolent misdemeanor.

      Ergo, I suspect that rather than the 7-6 majority that probably voted to reconsider the case en banc, if Judge Roth opts to participate (and I suspect she likely will), then votes will likely be 7-7 (which means the panel opinion is reinstated).

      Further, if as expected Biden fills the currently vacant Third Circuit seat, there will be a 7-7 split of active service judges. Who knows if that will happen before the Third Circuit hears the case.

      Bottom line: don’t get your hopes up on this one.

      • “Unfortunately, the same SCOTUS we have today denied cert about two years ago in two test cases raising **exactly** this issue (which shocked me at the time), so hard to say whether there are 5 votes on SCOTUS for this.”

        I’m not getting my hopes up, but there may well be a reason they might grant cert. on this one (and other 2A cases in the future.

        Building blocks.

        I believe it was you awhile back who suggested the reason the high Court wasn’t granting cert left and right on 2A cases was that the the high Court wanted to make their eventual ruling to be as future-proof as possible to being struck down by a future high Court bench not so inclined to 2A rights as the current Court bench.

        IE, they want as firm as possible an existing logical ‘road’ of previous rulings that aligns with the ‘Bruen’ ruling.

        Is that possibly what’s happening here?

    • Debbie, there’s TONS of laws that are back door gun control, not just this food stamp fraud….and are far too many to list. And it’s because…gun control is why the laws were written. Our gov’s been doing it to us for far too long too.

  8. I have several issues that are brought up multiple times here in the comments.
    1 – We do not use law from before our countries founding in situations like this. Our foundations are based in English Common Law except for those laws that are in direct opposition to our Constitution. One of the reasons for the Bill of Rights was to protect from this type of sleight of hand, legal double speak.
    2 – There were nine traditionally accepted felonies: murder, manslaughter, arson, burglary, robbery, rape, sodomy, mayhem, and larceny. Over the years many others were added with no rhyme or reason. In 1823 in a treatise written on American Law, Nathan Dane wrote about the word felony, ” it is impossible to know precisely in what sense we are to understand this word.” A lot more but that summed it up for this small argument. There are thousands of felonies, and anything can become a felony as there is no clear definition of the word. Saying a “Felon” loses their rights of X, Y, and Z is lazy and wrong. As “Felon” has no real meaning other than what we assign to it in the immediate conversation and time. It is also said the US defines a felony as a crime punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. This si still not a valid definition as we can simply pass legislation that the most innocuous behavior is punished by a term of 1 year and 1 days. Surprise! Not coming to a complete stop at the stop sign is a felony now. Everyone is a felon just waiting to be caught as it will happen, even if on accident at some point. Lose your rights and do not pass Go or Collect $200.

    • For many, many, MANY years here in TTAG, I have made this prediction –

      If we win *big* for gun rights, the answer from the gun-grabbers will be to make as many things as possible to be a crime so they can grab (and destroy in front of you, if possible) your guns. To disarm you so you can never again own guns.

      Examples – Reckless driving? Someone who can’t responsibly drive a machine that can maim and kill shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun.

      Get into heated argument at work with brain-damaged fuckwit? Someone who can’t control their temper has no business owning a gun.

      That type of ‘logic’ is what they will use if they can get away with it. It’s our job to make sure the only laws that can disarm the people are those that designate clear lines have been crossed…

  9. I hope this man wins his case. The 2A is clear and leaves no room for negotiation nor for that matters any bans nor litigation. None of this gun control should be tolerated EVER.

  10. UNLIKELY ALLIES Come To 2A’s Rescue in MAJOR FEDERAL APPEALS CASE.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oTaurIhGP4

    A group of FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER offices have submitted an Amicus Brief in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the right to keep and bear arms in the pending appellate case of RANGE V. GARLAND. The Court of Appeals in the RANGE case will be considering whether the application of 18 USC 922g to non-violent felons violates the 2nd Amendment.

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