A judge has invalidated a law that restricted citizens’ Second Amendment rights, deeming the provision unconstitutional. This law prohibited individuals from possessing firearms after being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). U.S. District Court Judge John Milton Younge, citing the recent Second Amendment ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, declared statute 922(g)(1) a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. This case, Williams v. Garland, No. 2:17-cv-02641-JMY, is currently being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with Edward Williams challenging the statute.
Williams faced multiple DUI arrests in the early 2000s, including incidents in 2000, 2001, and 2004. The charges from the 2001 arrest were dismissed. In 2004, Williams was arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.223, well above the 0.08 legal limit. Due to the 2000 DUI arrest, Williams was charged and convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor for the 2004 incident. This not only exposed him to potential imprisonment for up to five years but also, under the aforementioned statute, prohibited Williams from possessing a firearm.
This situation prompted Williams to file a lawsuit challenging 922(g)(1) on Second Amendment grounds. Judge Younge, as mentioned earlier, has ruled 922(g)(1) a violation of the Second Amendment, partly relying on Bruen’s precedent, emphasizing that “an individual’s conduct may fall outside of Second Amendment protection” only if firearm regulations align with the nation’s historical tradition.
Prohibiting Plaintiff’s possession of a firearm due to his DUI conviction is a violation of his Second Amendment rights as it is inconsistent with the United States’ tradition of firearms regulation.
Younge also drew upon a Third Circuit case, Range v. Attorney General, where the court concluded that the Second Amendment extends not only to “law-abiding citizens” but to “all people,” encompassing individuals with a criminal history.
“The Court finds that the Government has not carried its burden in proving that the United States’ tradition of firearm regulation supports stripping an individual of their right to possess a firearm because they had previously driven while intoxicated.
“The application of Section 922(g)(1) to Plaintiff, therefore, constitutes a violation of his Second Amendment rights, and the Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to the requested relief.”