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On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled 11-4 in favor of a Pennsylvania man affirming that his 2A rights cannot be stripped due to a conviction for a non-violent crime
Bryan Range has been in a legal battle since 2020 over his right to bear arms following a 1995 guilty plea for welfare fraud. After his conviction three years ago, federal law barred him from owning firearms. Range argued that this restriction violated his constitutional rights.
Range’s guilty plea led to a misdemeanor conviction that could have led to a five-year imprisonment sentence. Federal law can strip 2A rights from an individual if they are convicted of a crime punishable by over a year in prison.
This type of punishment usually encompasses felonies; however, certain misdemeanors can also carry heavy penalties.
Even though Range was only sentenced to three years probation, the law rescinded Range’s right to keep and bear arms
Range’s attempt to restore his rights was rejected by a federal judge in 2021.
However, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 affirmed that the Constitution guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, implying that any restrictions on 2A rights must be in line with the nation’s tradition of gun regulation.
“We are very pleased that the 3rd Circuit has vindicated the rights of our client by faithfully applying the Supreme Court’s decision,” Range’s lawyer, Peter Patterson, said in an email to Reuters.
The Court’s Ruling
The appeal was heard by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The majority opinion, released Tuesday, states, “the government had failed to point to any laws from the United States’ founding establishing a tradition of disarming non-violent criminals.”
The Court concluded that Range is considered one of “the people” protected under the Second Amendment.
Additionally, they agreed that the Government failed to provide a reason why he specifically should have his rights stripped. It also could not demonstrate that it is a national tradition to rescind 2A rights following non-violent crimes.
Of the four dissenters, Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause wrote, “Where, as here, the legislature has made a reasonable and considered judgment to disarm those who show disrespect for the law, it is not the place of unelected judges to substitute that judgment with their own.”
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