MEDFORD, OR (January 31, 2022) — The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) has filed a new lawsuit that challenges the federal government’s wrongful denial of an application to purchase a firearm, as well as burden-shifting policies and practices that force gun buyers to prove they are not prohibited persons under the law. The complaint for Newton v. United States, along with additional case information and documents, can be found at FPCLaw.org.
In 1981, Ralph Newton was convicted of two federal misdemeanors (disorderly conduct and assault) for his role in a bar fight in the Yosemite Valley. As a result, he paid a $50 fine, was sentenced to six days in jail, and placed on one year’s probation. Nearly four decades later, Newton was denied the purchase of a firearm for self-defense by the federal government. The government claims Newton’s convictions could have been crimes of domestic violence, despite no supporting evidence. However, the government has long since destroyed the 40-year-old records, and unconstitutionally placed Newton in its ‘prohibited persons’ list. The government further enforced its policy and practice of shifting the burden of proof, requiring Newton to prove—with the court documents the government itself had destroyed—that he is not prohibited, rather than the government proving that Newton is prohibited with sufficient evidence and due process.
“Law-abiding, responsible citizens are entitled to keep and bear arms unless and until the government establishes that an individual is prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights,” the complaint says. “By requiring instead that Newton demonstrate that he is not prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm, Defendants inverted the constitutional framework and violated the Second Amendment.”
“It is the government’s burden to prove that a person may not exercise their fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. But in its policies and practices, the federal government flips that rule on its head, instead requiring that people prove that they are not prohibited from possessing and acquiring firearms. That is not only unconscionable under our system of law, it’s unconstitutional,” said attorney Adam Kraut, FPC’s vice president of programs. “Through this lawsuit we seek to vindicate the rights of Mr. Newton and force the government to stop its unlawful and unconstitutional policies and practices that force people to jump through unconstitutional hoops before exercising their rights.”
FPC and Mr. Newton are represented in the lawsuit by Bradley Benbrook and Stephen Duvernay of Benbrook Law Group, PC, of Sacramento, and Mike McLane of Bend, Oregon-based law firm Lynch Murphy McLane LLP.
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 FPCLaw.org and follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.
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.