Federal Lifetime Gun Ban Unconstitutional for Non-Violent Felons Like Appellant, FPC Argues in 7th Circuit Brief

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CHICAGO (June 13, 2022) – Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and FPC Action Foundation (FPCAF) today announced that they have filed an important brief with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Atkinson v. Garland, a case challenging the federal lifetime ban on gun ownership as applied to a 1998 non-violent felony conviction for mail fraud, urging the Court to reverse a misguided decision of the trial court. The brief, authored by FPCAF director of constitutional studies and Second Amendment scholar Joseph Greenlee, can be found at FPCLaw.org.

24 years ago, Patrick Atkinson pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 134, a non-violent crime. As a result of his felony conviction, under federal law, he is prohibited for his entire life from exercising his fundamental Second Amendment right to possess firearms and ammunition. But, the brief argues, that lifetime ban is unconstitutional.

“There is no tradition of disarming peaceable citizens. Nor is there any tradition of limiting the Second Amendment to ‘virtuous’ citizens. Historically, nonviolent criminals who demonstrated no violent propensity—such as someone convicted of mail fraud—retained their right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, several laws expressly allowed them to keep arms[,]” wrote Greenlee in the brief. Thus, FPC and FPCAF say, “The decision below should be reversed, and the ban should be held unconstitutional as applied to Atkinson.”

“Mr. Atkinson is forever prohibited from possessing firearms due to a nonviolent mail fraud conviction nearly a quarter-century ago,” said Greenlee. “The Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment maintains its original scope, and, as our brief demonstrates, America’s founders never intended for peaceable persons to be denied Second Amendment rights. The government’s prohibition should therefore be held unconstitutional, and Mr. Atkinson’s Second Amendment rights should be restored.”

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The filing of this important brief is made possible by FPC’s members and donors. Individuals who would like to join the FPC Grassroots Army can sign up at JoinFPC.org. Individuals and organizations wanting to support charitable efforts in support of the restoration of Second Amendment and other natural rights can also make a tax-deductible donation to the FPC Action Foundation. For more on FPC’s lawsuits and other pro-Second Amendment initiatives, visit FPCLegal.org and follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org), a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty, defend constitutional rights, advance individual liberty, and restore freedom. FPC’s efforts are focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and adjacent issues including freedom of speech, due process, unlawful searches and seizures, separation of powers, asset forfeitures, privacy, encryption, and limited government. The FPC team are next-generation advocates working to achieve the Organization’s strategic objectives through litigation, research, scholarly publications, amicus briefing, legislative and regulatory action, grassroots activism, education, outreach, and other programs. FPC Law (FPCLaw.org) is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the leader in the Second Amendment litigation and research space.

FPC Action Foundation (FPCActionFoundation.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, exists to create a world of maximal human liberty through charitable legal action, public policy, education, and research programs.

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