Driving under the influence never is a good idea. It is especially bad if the potential jail sentence leads to a loss of your Second Amendment rights.
Turns out, the federal government does not let people buy firearms after they are convicted of “serious” crimes. The federal government says any crime that carries an at-least two-year jail sentence is a “serious” crime.
A Pennsylvania man challenged a recent denial of a gun purchase based on a DUI conviction 12 years prior. The man, Raymond Holloway Jr., pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2005 and spent 90 days in jail.
The charge, though, carried a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment as a first-degree misdemeanor. Holloway was not sentenced for five years or even two, which is the federal threshold.
Any crime that triggers a jail sentence of two or more years is considered serious by federal standards. Apparently, that applies even if you are not sentenced to two years in jail. The potential for a maximum sentence exceeding the threshold is enough.
Holloway challenged the denial of his gun purchase in federal court – and won! U.S. Middle District Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Connor agreed Holloway’s Second Amendment right to bear arms was violated and overturned the gun sale ban.
The area’s regional U.S. attorney, ATF, and FBI appealed the decision. A divided Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the federal law and refused to grant his Second Amendment rights based on a misdemeanor conviction for DUI.
So, even a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence exceeding two years – even when not imposed, amounts to a serious crime in federal parlance. That crime could cause you to lose your gun rights, as affirmed by a federal appeals court.
If anti-gunners get ahold of that information, expect more maximum sentences to be extended for DUIs and other commonly committed misdemeanors. Certainly, no one who drinks and drives should carry a firearm while doing so. Getting convicted of a DUI does not mean you are a menace to society for life though.
Holloway had another DUI charge in 2003 but pleaded it down and completed an alcohol-rehabilitation program. Apparently, it didn’t take. He pleaded guilty to DUI at the highest penalty rate in Pennsylvania two years later.
Despite more than a decade transpiring with no problems after the 2005 DUI conviction for which he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, Holloway still cannot buy a firearm. Apparently, that ban extends anywhere he lives, because it is a federal law.
A dissenting opinion in the majority ruling pointed out an obvious problem. State penalties differ widely for the same action. A DUI in one state might not trigger a two-year jail term. In such a case, no one there would lose gun rights due to a conviction. That same conviction in Pennsylvania might cause you to lose your gun rights. The real danger to gun owners is in states controlled by anti-gunners, like in Virginia or Nevada. If the anti-gunners decide to increase maximum penalties for misdemeanors, it would be another way to circumvent the Second Amendment and erode your gun rights.