PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 14, 2023) – Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced that Judge John Milton Younge of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has granted summary judgment for the plaintiff in Williams v. Garland, which challenged the federal Gun Control Act’s lifetime ban on the exercise of Second Amendment rights due to a single misdemeanor conviction for a crime that did not involve violence, physical harm, or a firearm. The opinion can be viewed at FPCLegal.org.
Following a 2005 trial, Edward Williams was convicted of driving under the influence, in violation of Pennsylvania law. Because he had a previous DUI non-conviction in 2001, that was later expunged, the 2005 conviction qualified as a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. However, he was never imprisoned, and was instead placed under house arrest for 90 days, ordered to pay costs, a fine of $1,500, and to complete any recommended drug and alcohol treatment under the mandatory minimum sentence.
“The Government points to several regulations permitting the disarmament of drunk or intoxicated persons,” wrote Judge Younge in his opinion. “None of these regulations allude to disarmament lasting beyond the individual’s state of intoxication, and none provided for permanent disarmament, as Section 922(g)(1) does. Certainly, this Court agrees that using a firearm while intoxicated is dangerous, but historical regulations which momentarily disarmed certain individuals for temporary mental incapacity cannot be considered similar to the sanction of permanent disarmament for past DUI convictions.”
“We are very pleased with the district court’s decision,” said FPC Law’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee. “Mr. Williams is a peaceable person who should have never been disarmed. The court correctly ruled that his Second Amendment rights should be restored.”
FPC is especially grateful for the excellent work of attorney Joshua Prince on this case.
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Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org), a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty, defend constitutional rights, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. FPC’s efforts are focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and adjacent issues including freedom of speech, due process, unlawful searches and seizures, separation of powers, asset forfeitures, privacy, encryption, and limited government. The FPC team are next-generation advocates working to achieve the Organization’s strategic objectives through litigation, research, scholarly publications, amicus briefing, legislative and regulatory action, grassroots activism, education, outreach, and other programs.
FPC Law (FPCLaw.org) is the nation’s first and largest public interest legal team focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the leader in the Second Amendment litigation and research space.