Thursday, March 17, 2016

Appeals Court Ruling Could Threaten the Second Amendment Rights of American Citizens

By Andrew Kloster

On August 20, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in United States v. Mariano A. Meza-Rodriguez.[1] This case addresses two interesting questions:
  • Do non-citizens have Second Amendment rights?
  • Even if they do have such rights, can the government criminalize the possession of guns by illegal aliens?
The Seventh Circuit held that although illegal aliens are covered by the Second Amendment, the government nevertheless can constitutionally prohibit them from owning firearms and ammunition. Instead of applying a bright-line test, however, the court applied a balancing test that could threaten Second Amendment rights in other contexts. 

...In the wake of Heller, the Second Amendment has become an area of significant litigation, but there are still many unsettled areas of the law. For example:
  • Can use or possession of so-called assault weapons be prohibited in all circumstances?
  • Can handguns be prohibited in student housing on public university campuses?
  • Can the government prohibit or impose burdensome regulations on the manufacture and sale of certain or all firearms?
  • How difficult can state and local government make it for individuals to license their firearms before the regulatory regime becomes unconstitutional?
  • Can government bar illegal aliens from possessing firearms?
Four different U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals have answered this last question in the affirmative. The first three decisions reached this result by concluding that illegal aliens were not among “the people” covered by the Second Amendment. The fourth and most recent decision, Meza-Rodriguez, handed down in August 2015, concluded that illegal aliens were among “the people” but that they nevertheless could be barred from gun ownership consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

1 comment:

Bill Weddle said...

Here is the only right answer, always for the people:

Jefferson on Original Intent of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights:

"On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, CONFORM TO THE PROBABLE ONE IN WHICH IT WAS PASSED."

--Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), letter to Judge William Johnson, (from Monticello, June 12, 1823)