Philadelphia, PA (July 18, 2022) – Today, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) announced the filing of an en banc petition in Williams v. Garland, which challenges 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 filing can be found 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.
In May, the Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling in favor of the Government, saying that the case “must meet the same fate” as a previous one due to circuit precedent. Because the decision came before the Supreme Court’s opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen, today’s petition argues that “[r]ehearing en banc is appropriate because the panel opinion contradicts Bruen, which mandates a historical test based on dangerousness and thus forbids the disarmament of peaceable persons like Williams.”
“The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that any firearm restriction must be consistent with the original understanding of the Second Amendment,” said FPCAF’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee. “At no point throughout American history, until just recently, would a peaceable person like Mr. Williams forfeit his right to keep and bear arms. We hope that the Third Circuit will use this opportunity to bring its test for Second Amendment challenges into line with Supreme Court precedent and American history.”
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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.