BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation has joined in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving an Arizona man’s motion to dismiss an indictment charging with two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms, on the grounds that non-violent felony convictions should not serve as a reason for lifetime loss of Second Amendment rights.
SAF joins the Firearms Policy Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, California Gun Rights Foundation and Madison Society. Their brief was written by Sacramento attorney Joseph G.S. Greenlee.
The case involves a man named Israel Torres. In 2004 and 2010, he pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence charges, each of which is a felony under Arizona statute. The crimes are punishable by more than one year in prison, thus disqualifying Torres from exercising Second Amendment rights. He challenged the prohibition, arguing that the crimes for which he was convicted were not felonies at the time of the Founding.
In their amicus argument, SAF and its partners note, “There is no tradition of disarming peaceable citizens. Nor is there any tradition of limiting the Second Amendment to ‘virtuous’ citizens. Historically, nonviolent criminals who demonstrated no violent propensity were not prohibited from keeping arms. Indeed, some laws expressly allowed them to keep arms.
“Thus, using history and tradition to interpret the Second Amendment’s text, as Heller did, “the people” who have the right to keep and bear arms include peaceable persons like Torres,” the amicus brief adds.
“For many years,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “it was common for non-violent felons to enjoy Second Amendment rights after they had finished their sentences. And more recently there was a rights-restoration program involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that remains the law, but has been deliberately unfunded in order to prevent people convicted of non-violent crimes to ever be allowed to possess firearms again. We believe that is wrong, and this is why we’ve joined in the is amicus brief.”