Summary Judgment Granted Against Lifetime Ban on Second Amendment Rights for Single Misdemeanor Conviction
In the recent case of Williams v. Garland, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) challenged the federal Gun Control Act’s lifetime ban on the exercise of Second Amendment rights due to a single misdemeanor conviction for a non-violent crime. The defendant, Edward Williams, was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in 2005, and as a result of a previous DUI non-conviction in 2001, the 2005 conviction qualified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Williams was never imprisoned, but was placed under house arrest, ordered to pay a fine and costs, and complete any recommended drug and alcohol treatment under the mandatory minimum sentence.
On November 14, 2023, Judge John Milton Younge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment for the plaintiff in Williams v. Garland. In his opinion, Judge Younge noted that while regulations do exist permitting the disarmament of drunk or intoxicated persons, none of these regulations allude to disarmament lasting beyond the individual’s state of intoxication, and none provided for permanent disarmament, as Section 922(g)(1) does. The Court agreed that using a firearm while intoxicated is dangerous, but historical regulations which momentarily disarmed certain individuals for temporary mental incapacity cannot be considered similar to the sanction of permanent disarmament for past DUI convictions.
This decision has significant implications for those who have been subject to the lifetime ban on Second Amendment rights due to a single non-violent misdemeanor conviction. The ruling acknowledges that certain regulations, while intended to keep individuals safe, cannot infringe upon an individual’s constitutional rights permanently. As such, this ruling could potentially pave the way for challenges to other laws that infringe upon Second Amendment rights in similar ways.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) has celebrated this decision as a victory for Second Amendment rights and peaceful individuals who should never have been disarmed. They hope that this decision will lead to a broader recognition of the right to keep and bear arms and a renewed commitment to individual liberty and freedom. Those who support FPC and their related initiatives can support them by signing up at JoinFPC.org or by making a tax-deductible donation to the FPC Action Foundation.
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