Under the history and tradition of the Second Amendment, non-violent felons should not lose their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

PHILADELPHIA (December 28, 2021) — The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced the filing of an important brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of Bryan Range v. Att’y General of the U.S., a case challenging the government’s lifetime ban on firearms possession as applied to a person who was convicted of a non-violent misdemeanor. FPC’s brief, joined by FPC Action Foundation (formerly named Firearms Policy Foundation), can be found at FPCLaw.org.

In 1995, Bryan Range was convicted in a Pennsylvania state court for making a false statement to obtain food stamps assistance, a class one misdemeanor. And under that conviction for a non-violent crime, he not only served no time in jail, but he made restitution for the crime. Range has been a peaceable citizen since, has been gainfully employed, and a family man, but because of the conviction twenty-six years ago, he is unconstitutionally banned forever from possessing and protecting himself and his family with firearms, a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment.

“There is no tradition in American history of banning peaceable citizens from owning firearms,” FPC’s brief argues. “The historical justification Heller relied on to declare felon bans ‘presumptively lawful’ must have been the tradition of disarming dangerous persons.” The brief notes that in English tradition, “dangerous persons” were most often “disaffected persons disloyal to the current government, who might want to overthrow it—or political opponents defined as such.” American history, from the early colonial days through the mid-twentieth century, followed the same tradition. Peaceable persons like Mr. Range, by contrast, were never prohibited from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. 

“Lying on a government form to acquire more food stamps for your family is not the type of crime that justifies the permanent elimination of the human right to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” explained FPC attorney Matthew Larosiere, who co-authored the brief. “The right to keep and bear arms is not a privilege reserved to America’s ruling class, and the government cannot support its ban as applied to Mr. Range under a proper constitutional analysis.”

“Mr. Range is completely and forever prohibited from possessing firearms based on a 26-year-old nonviolent misdemeanor conviction,” said FPC’s Joseph Greenlee. “The founders never intended for someone like him to be deprived of the right to own a firearm for any period of time, let alone for life. We believe that the Court should hold the government’s prohibition unconstitutional and restore his Second Amendment rights.”

FPC’s brief cites Greenlee’s authoritative scholarship on the issue, a law review article published by the Wyoming Law Review in 2020 entitled “The Historical Justification for Prohibiting Dangerous Persons from Possessing Arms,” available online here.

Individuals who would like to join the FPC Grassroots Army or donate to support pro-Second Amendment programs to protect and restore the right to keep and bear arms should visit JoinFPC.org. For more on FPC’s lawsuits and other pro-Second Amendment initiatives, visit FPCLegal.org and follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.

About FPC

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 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.