Federal decision DUI vs 2nd amendment gun rights

In a U.S. District Court decision issued on September 28, 2018, by Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner from the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Court ruled that the felon-in-possession ban of 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) is unconstitutional as to Raymond Holloway, Jr. in violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) states that “it is unlawful for any person who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”

The case

Raymond Holloway, Jr. was charged with DUI and speeding in December 2002 in violation of Pennsylvania law, but he completed a diversion program and the charges were dismissed.  In January 2005, he was again arrested and convicted for DUI at the highest rate of alcohol and it was a misdemeanor in the first degree. He completed his sentence in March 2006.  In September 2016, Holloway tried to purchase a firearm and his application was denied following an instant background check. Upon appeal, Pennsylvania State Police stated that pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §922(g), the DUI conviction prohibited him from buying a firearm.  Holloway filed suit challenging the Code under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Decision

The court concluded that Holloway’s crime was not a “serious offense” under Section 922(g)(1) because a second DUI offense at the highest rate of alcohol is a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law and no showing of violence or attempted violence is required for conviction.  The court determined that “the government had not satisfied its burden of proving that disarmament of Holloway, and other individuals like him, will promote public safety.” The court also holds that “the government has not demonstrated a substantial fit between Holloway’s continued disarmament and the important government interest of preventing armed mayhem.”

Conclusion

The court concluded: “Section 922(g)(1) is unconstitutional as applied to Holloway.  Holloway’s disqualifying conviction was not sufficiently serious to warrant deprivation of his Second Amendment rights, and disarmament of individuals such as Holloway is not sufficiently tailored to further the government’s compelling interest of preventing armed mayhem.  The court will grant summary judgment, declaratory judgment, and permanent injunctive relief to Holloway.

If you have questions about your right to possess a firearm, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale appeals attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Richard Della Fera.