18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by any person convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison. Congress defined the term “punishable by more than one year in prison” to exclude state law misdemeanors punishable by less than two years imprisonment, but include state law misdemeanors punishable by more than two years imprisonment. In other words, if the crime is punishable by two years and a day or more of potential incarceration, an individual is federally stripped of their right to keep and bear arms.
The Plaintiffs were two individuals who had been convicted of state law misdemeanors that fell into Section 922(g)(1)’s purview. Plaintiff Daniel Binderup was convicted of the Pennsylvania misdemeanor of corrupting a minor, which was punishable by up to five years imprisonment, for his consensual relationship with a 17-year-old. Binderup, who had no other criminal record, received a sentence of three years’ probation and was never imprisoned. Plaintiff Julio Suarez had been convicted in Maryland for carrying a revolver without a license – a state law misdemeanor which was punishable by up to three years in prison. Suarez, who had no other relevant convictions in his criminal record, received a suspended sentence and was never imprisoned.
Binderup and Suarez brought challenges to 922(g)(1)’s prohibition against their ability to purchase and possess firearms and ammunition in federal court, arguing that the law violated the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Third Circuit En Banc held that § 922(g)(1) was unconstitutional as-applied and affirmed the District Court’s Decision, which granted summary judgments in favor of Binderup and Suarez.
Case Team: Alan Gura, Douglas Gould
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