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New District Court Opinion on Felons and Gun Ownership

The District Court of Southern Mississippi has recently released a decision with interesting implications for felons who either desire to own a gun or who have gotten in trouble for owning a gun.

Up until now, the United States’ courts have held that the Second Amendment only applies to people who are “virtuous, law-abiding citizens” and/or “responsible citizens,” and that people who are felons are not protected by it. However, the decision of this District Court in United States v. Bullock pushes back on both of those points.

This court negates the idea of gun ownership only being afforded to citizens who are virtuous, responsible, and who abide by the law from several angles. First, the other rights that have been reserved for “virtuous” citizens, such as voting and serving on juries, are all civic rights, whereas the right to own a firearm for self-defense is an individual right. Additionally, there is no historical tradition of the government disarming citizens on the explicit grounds of being “unvirtuous.” Finally, the terms “law-abiding” and “responsible” are excessively broad; the government does not disarm people after getting a traffic ticket, despite having clearly broken a law, and the definition of responsible varies widely from person to person.

The District Court also refutes that there is historical precedent for disarming felons. While this has certainly been the case in recent decades, this decision points out that we have evidence of “Founding-era governments” allowing felons to repurchase firearms after completing their sentence.

(The decision also questions the wisdom of “elevating ‘historical tradition’ above all other modes of legal analysis,” but since deferring to historical precedent is so prominent in the modern court system, this court follows suit.)

If this decision is found to have legal merit upon further appeals to higher courts, it may mark a seismic shift in how this county approaches felons and their gun rights. Kenny, Burns & McGill are already working on motions to the 3rd Circuit Court for some of our gun ownership cases based on this decision. We are excitedly looking forward to new ways we can fight for our clients!

If you or a loved one have run into trouble regarding your ownership of a firearm, don’t navigate the tricky legal system on your own; call Kenny, Burns & McGill today! (215) 423-5500

To read the full text of the decision, click here: link

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