The Second Amendment Foundation has landed another big win for protecting one’s right to keep and bear arms this week as the Third District Court of Appeals has ruled that individuals convicted of certain non-serious misdemeanors do not permanently lose their 2A rights.
The court addressed two cases that raised the issue, Binderup v. the U.S. Attorney General and Suarez v. the U.S. Attorney General, unanimously ruling that certain misdemeanor offenses are not grounds for depriving one of their right to keep and bear arms in perpetuity.
“Where the Second Amendment’s guarantees apply, as they do for Binderup and Suarez, ‘certain policy choices’ are ‘necessarily’ taken ‘off the table.’ Forever prohibiting them from possessing any firearm is one of those policy choices,” the appeals court said in Wednesday’s ruling.
To recap the cases, Julio Suarez was pulled over for driving under the influence in 1990. He was also carrying a handgun and ammo without a permit. He pled guilty in a Maryland state court, receiving 180-day suspended sentence and a $500 fine. Daniel Binderup, meanwhile, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to a consensual relationship he had with a 17-year-old female employee in 1996. He received three years probation and a $300 fine. Neither Suarez or Binderup were incarcerated.
Since federal law bans those convicted of crimes that could have resulted in jail time ***exceeding one year*** from owning firearms, Binderup and Suarez petitioned the Pennsylvania court in 2009 to remove the state prohibition against firearms possession, but federal law “continues to bar them from possessing firearms because their convictions have not been expunged or set aside, they have not been pardoned, and their civil rights have not been restored,” the court noted.
“Today’s victory confirms that the government can’t simply disarm anyone it wishes,” said SAF attorney Alan Gura. “At an absolute minimum, people convicted of non-serious crimes, who pose no threat to anyone, retain their fundamental rights. That this is even controversial is a matter of some concern.”
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb also weighed in on the matter, “In an era where government officials want to disqualify as many people as possible from gun ownership, this ruling is monumental. This case will lead to the restoration of people’s civil and constitutional right to own a firearm that is long overdue.”
We live in a society were good people sometimes make mistakes. Maybe it’s due to immaturity or maybe they just weren’t thinking straight when they did what they did, but whatever the reason, it’s good to have a system by which they can (a) learn from their mistake and (b) be given a second chance, particularly when it comes to the precious right of self-defense via lawful gun ownership.
Now, it would be naive to suggest that everyone agrees with the “second chance” concept. Some gun owners believe that when it comes to firearms, if you mess up once, then you deserve to lose your right to keep and bear arms forever. The logic being that when you mess up you not only make yourself look bad but you make all gun owners look bad and because we are constantly battling to preserve our 2A rights, it’s too much of a risk to give that right back to someone who has acted irresponsibly in the past.
Where do you come out on this issue? Do you believe in rights restoration or are you a one-and-done proponent?