FPC: Federal Lifetime Gun Ban is Unconstitutional, Argue Second Amendment Groups in Court Brief that Traces History Back to A.D. 602

PHILADELPHIA, PA (JULY 12, 2019) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) announced the filing of an important amicus brief in the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the criminal appeal of U.S.A. v. Raphael Hunt-Irving, which challenges the federal lifetime ban on firearm possession by even non-violent felons. The brief was authored by FPC attorney and Legal Fellow Joseph Greenlee, a Second Amendment expert and historian. A copy of the court filing can be accessed at www.firearmspolicy.org/legal.

Mr. Hunt-Irving had been entirely deprived of his Second Amendment rights based on a non-violent felony, which the government used in order to prosecute him for violating 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). As in other cases, FPC filed a brief in support of Mr. Hunt-Irving’s Second Amendment claims, using groundbreaking new research by Greenlee to show that the historical basis for bans on felons is the tradition of disarming actually dangerous people convicted of violent felony crimes, not just those the government broadly classifies as ‘felons’ in its statutes.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that in evaluating a Second Amendment challenge, a court must interpret the Amendment’s text in light of the history and tradition of the founding era,” explained Greenlee. “When the right was codified, only dangerous people had ever been deprived of their right to arms. The federal statute at issue in this case is therefore a violation of the Second Amendment’s protections by disarming non-violent people who have every right to keep and bear arms under every appropriate test and analysis.”

Since Mr. Hunt-Irving’s conviction was for a non-violent crime, he is distinct from those who have historically been barred from keeping arms. FPC’s brief traces the historical tradition of disarming dangerous persons from the year 602 through the enactment of 18 U.S.C. 922. The brief shows that there is no tradition of banning peaceable citizens from owning firearms, and that non-violent felons are ‘peaceable’ in the American and legal tradition. Thus, it argues, there is no historical justification for a ban on Mr. Hunt-Irving and he should retain his Second Amendment rights.

FPC and FPF were joined in the brief by Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF).

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