Federal Court Rules Firearms Prohibition Against an Individual for a Misdemeanor Conviction Under Vehicle Code is Unconstitutional


Today, Joshua Prince and myself secured another victory for Second Amendment jurisprudence in Miller v. Sessions, et al., 2:17-cv-02627 in an issue of first impression across the United States. Judge Eduardo Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in a 25 page memorandum that it was unconstitutional, as-applied to Mr. Miller, to prevent him from exercising his Second Amendment right as a result of a 1998 misdemeanor conviction under the vehicle code – specifically, the alteration of a PennDOT window tint exemption form.

As the Court succinctly wrote in its memorandum

This action is about one citizen’s individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The citizen wishes to purchase and possess a firearm. The Government contends that under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), the citizen is permanently banned from possessing a firearm because of a 1998 misdemeanor conviction under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. The citizen challenges the federal statute as unconstitutional as applied to him. The citizen wins. 

Applying the four factors of Binderup to Mr. Miller’s challenge, the court concluded that “that the crime of which Miller was convicted in 1998, which disqualifies him from purchasing, possessing, or using a firearm, is not a ‘serious crime’ under Binderup.”

Notably, in relation to the fourth factor under Binderup which requires cross-jurisdictional consensus as to the offense’s seriousness, the Court declined to compare the similarities and differences between Mr. Miller and the crimes in the Government’s survey because “even if this factor is given some weight in the Government’s favor, it does not outweigh the other three factors that weigh in Miller’s favor.” 

Applying intermediate scrutiny, which requires a substantial fit between the means and the ends, Judge Robreno found that “even when viewed in the light most favorable to the Government, § 922(g)(1), as applied to Miller, does not survive intermediate scrutiny because the Government has failed to demonstrate a substantial fit between disarming Miller and protecting the community from crime.”

As a result, the Court enjoined the Government from enforcing, directing the enforcement, or permitting the enforcement of the felon-in-possession ban of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) against Mr. Miller. While the order is only in relation to Mr. Miller, the Court’s holding is indicative of the willingness to continue to grant relief to certain individuals who may be barred from possessing firearms under federal law due to a non-violent misdemeanor conviction.

Individuals who find themselves prohibited due to a non-violent misdemeanor offense and wish to challenge the bar on their ability to possess firearms and ammunition can contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss their rights and legal options.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

 

Updated 2/5 to reflect that it was the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and not the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

13 thoughts on “Federal Court Rules Firearms Prohibition Against an Individual for a Misdemeanor Conviction Under Vehicle Code is Unconstitutional

  1. So the punishment for the crime of the alteration of a PennDOT window tint exemption form is more than 1 YEAR?
    Prohibited person: convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
    Pretty harsh, methinks. Seems to me a fine, slap on the wrist and revoke his window tint permit (or whatever) and make him redo the form.

    Like

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