Judge rules gun ban for felony defendants unconstitutional

PECOS, Texas (AP) — A U.S. law barring people charged with felonies from buying firearms is unconstitutional, a West Texas federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge David Counts, whom then-President Donald Trump appointed to the federal bench, dismissed a federal indictment against Jose Gomez Quiroz who charged him under the federal ban .

According to Counts’ ruling, Quiroz was facing a state burglary indictment when he attempted to purchase a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun and contested the federal charge that resulted.

In a 25-page notice filed in Pecos, Texas, Counts acknowledged “the real implications of this case – there are certainly valid public policy and safety issues.” However, he said a Supreme Court decision this summer in a challenge brought by the New York Rifle & Pistol Association “presented these concerns only as a historical analysis.”

“Although not exhaustive, the Court’s historical investigation finds little evidence that … (the federal ban) – which prohibits those charged with a crime from obtaining a firearm – aligns with the historical tradition of this nation.”

Therefore, he ruled the ban unconstitutional because the “Second Amendment is not a second-class right,” as noted in a 2008 Supreme Court decision. “Courts can no longer override a constitutional right “, Counts wrote. After the New York case, “the government must prove that the laws governing conduct covered by the clear text of the Second Amendment align with the historical tradition of this nation. The government does not bear this burden.

In the New York case, the High Court ruled by a 6-3 vote, with conservative justices forming the majority, that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public in self-defense. The June 23 ruling, written by Judge Clarence Thomas, was then seen as likely to lead to more people being legally armed.

A message to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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