A federal judge in Illinois has ruled that a felon did not lose his Second Amendment right to own a firearm, even after he had been convicted of multiple gun-related crimes.
The astonishing ruling stems from an alleged robbery in Chicago in September 2021. At the time, Glen Price supposedly robbed three men on a CTA train. When police searched Price, they reportedly found a stolen credit card, cocaine, a 9mm handgun, and extra ammunition.
As Price, now 37, had already been convicted of felony armed robbery three times in the past, federal law prohibited him from owning a gun. So officers charged Price with possessing a firearm as a felon, a federal statute with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.
On November 2, however, the federal case against Price was dismissed after U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, a Clinton appointee, determined that the statute prohibiting felons from possessing firearms was unconstitutional. That law “imposes a far greater burden on the right to keep and bear arms than the historical categorical exclusions from the people’s Second Amendment right,” Gettleman wrote in the 22-page decision.
Gettleman said he based his ruling on the 2022 SCOTUS case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. In that 6-3 decision, the justices struck down a New York state law requiring people to demonstrate “proper cause” when seeking a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Gettleman said that Bruen compelled the government to “provide evidence of a historical analogue that is both comparably justified and comparably burdensome of the right to keep and bear arms.” The judge said he went all the way back to 1677 but couldn’t find historical precedent for a similar prohibition on criminals possessing firearms.
He also said that the “plague” of violence in some communities did not override the need for historical precedent that “authorized capital punishment and estate forfeiture for felonies” as demanded by Bruen. While there are “strong policy reasons” for trying to prevent violent crime, “lifetime disarmament” is not “rooted in our Nation’s history and tradition,” Gettleman asserted, quoting from another 2023 federal ruling.
Bill Kushner, a police affairs consultant for WLS-TV, argued that the statute preventing felons from possessing weapons came about in the 1930s and then expanded in the 1960s for good reason: it helps prevent violent crime. “The carjackings, the shootings, these are not just demonized youth,” Kushner said. “These are people that feel that they have a free hand to do whatever they want without fear of repercussions.”
Even Richard Pearson, the executive director of Illinois State Rifle Association, disagreed with Gettleman’s decision. “I’m opposed to criminals who have been charged with violent crimes and convicted of those violent crimes from getting a handgun or an FOID card or concealed carry permit of any kind,” Pearson said.
U.S. attorneys have already filed an appeal in the case, Law&Crime reported. The outlet also stated that the case “seems fated to find its way before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
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