A lifetime ban on handgun ownership by people who have committed a crime of violence does not violate the Constitution, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled.
The court ruled today in the case of Andrew Craig, who was stopped by Mounds View police on suspicion of domestic assault in 2009. Police found a gun in the car, which he claimed was put in his backpack by his girlfriend. Craig had previously been convicted of possession of drugs, which Minnesota considers a crime of violence.
Craig appealed the ban on gun ownership but the court said "... the Supreme Court did not explicitly hold that the Second Amendment right is a fundamental right, so that restrictions on this right are subject to a strict-scrutiny standard of review."
The court said Minnesota law, which declares "a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms," does not bolster Craig's appeal because the 2003 concealed carry law recognizes persons the Legislature "has deemed ineligible to possess a firearm."
Judge Natalie Hudson said protecting the public from offenders who use guns is "an important governmental objective."
Although the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia's handgun ban (the Heller case) in 2008, Judge Hudson said that case made clear that the right to own a gun "is held by 'law-abiding, responsible citizens.'"
"A person convicted of a felony, particular one that is listed as a 'crime of violence' ... has demonstrated that he or she is not a law-abiding, responsible citizen," she wrote.
Here's the full opinion.
The fact that someone who has committed a violent felony should not be permitted to possess a firearm is kind of a no brainer.
Unfortunately, the fact that drug possession is considered a crime of violence shows that we can't count on the legal system to make no brainer decisions.
In this case, the previous drug conviction involved possession of a firearm, which is why it was a felony. And why this was a no-brainer.
No, Philip, it did not. The first conviction was merely for possession. Minnesota law considers every drug conviction, auto theft conviction and trade secret theft conviction to be a "crime of violence."
And that's the idiotic part.
Philip - thanks for the clarification.
Good decision in this case.
That said, this decision cites law which classifies a drug felony as a crime of violence, ergo prohibiting claimant from possession of a firearm,
REGARDLESS of whether he had ever been in possession of a firearm while committing a drug crime,
based on the ASSUMPTION that firearms are likely to be present during illegal drug transactions.
While this assumption might be generally accurate, I can personally attest to having witnessed more than one felony-level controlled substances transactions during which no firearms were present.
Again -good decision, shaky law.