BELLEVUE, WA – The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that individuals convicted of certain non-serious misdemeanor crimes do not lose their fundamental rights under the Second Amendment in a decision involving two separate cases brought by the Second Amendment Foundation.
The unanimous ruling came from an en banc panel in the combined cases of Binderup v. the U.S. Attorney General and Suarez v. the U.S. Attorney General.
In 1990, Julio Suarez was stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. At the time he was carrying a handgun and spare ammunition without a permit. He pleaded guilty in Maryland state court to the charge and received a 180-day suspended sentence and $500 fine. Daniel Binderup pleaded guilty in 1996 to a misdemeanor charge related to a consensual relationship he had with a 17-year-old female employee and received three years’ probation and a $300 fine. Neither man was ever incarcerated.
However, in both cases, the crimes could have resulted in jail time for which the federal gun law blocks firearms possession. 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.
“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 today’s ruling.
“Today’s victory confirms that the government can’t simply disarm anyone it wishes,” stated 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 cheered the ruling, adding that, “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.”
Gottlieb noted that today’s victory once again reinforces SAF’s long-stated mission of “Winning firearms freedom, one case at a time.”