The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that federal bans on convicted felons owning firearms are still constitutional despite a recent Supreme Court decision.
Melynda Vincent, who brought the case to court, is currently banned from possessing a gun because she was charged with fraud after writing a fake check at a grocery store in 2008, according to the ruling. The 10th Circuit Court ruled that although the Supreme Court had released a new decision on gun rights, Vincent still does not have the legal right to own a gun.
“Bruen apparently approved the constitutionality of regulations requiring criminal background checks before applicants could get gun permits,” the court wrote in the decision. “In Bruen, the Court struck down state regulations that had required the showing of a special need before someone could get a license to carry a gun.”
The Supreme Court accepted a similar case, United States v. Rahimi, Zackey, in June, and may release an ultimate decision on whether felons have a right to bear arms. Rahimi, the plaintiff in the case, argued that the court’s decision in Bruen meant that public safety is not a justifiable reason to ban guns, meaning that felons could potentially have the right under the Constitution.
Vincent argued that the 2022 Supreme Court decision in N.Y State Rifle & Pistol Assc. v. Bruen had created a new test to determine whether a felon could own a gun or not, the court noted. But the Supreme Court did not extend that right to felons in its decision and even seemed to uphold past precedent that currently prevents convicted felons from owning guns.
“In preserving “shall-issue” regimes and related background checks, the Court arguably implied that it was constitutional to deny firearm licenses to individuals with felony convictions,” the court wrote in the decision. “Bruen’s language thus could support an inference that the Second Amendment doesn’t entitle felons to possess firearms.”
Justice Robert E. Bacharach, who was appointed by then-President Barack Obama in 2012, joined the majority opinion but argued in a concurring opinion that the Supreme Court still needs to provide a clear standard on whether felons have Second Amendment rights. Bacharach hinted that the Supreme Court could overturn the gun ban in the future for individuals convicted of nonviolent felonies.
Vincent can still appeal her case to the Supreme Court, according to guidance from the United States Courts.
Lillian Tweten on September 15, 2023