By Michael Clements
The U.S. Department of Justice wants the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a Pennsylvania man his Second Amendment rights for making false statements to obtain food stamps in 1995 in Garland v. Range.
Though the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals found in his favor, lawyers for Bryan David Range are joining the DOJ in seeking to probe the limits of the June 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
The high court has not decided whether to hear the case.
According to court documents, in 1995, Mr. Range’s wife understated their household income on an application for public assistance. Mr. Range took responsibility for the act and pleaded guilty to making a false statement when applying for food stamps in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
He was sentenced to three years of probation.
Court records show he completed his sentence without incident. He also paid $2,458 in restitution, $288.29 in costs, and a $100 fine.
Mr. Range’s criminal history is limited to minor traffic infractions and fishing without a license. Though the conviction is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, federal law recognizes any sentence of two years or more as equivalent to a felony.
In 1998, he attempted to purchase a deer rifle and was rejected. His wife thought the rejection was an error and bought the gun for him as a gift, according to the court documents.
Years later, Mr. Range tried to buy a firearm and was rejected again. It was then he learned that the 1995 conviction was the reason. Mr. Range sold his rifle to a firearms dealer.
Mr. Range sued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for an injunction that would allow him to possess a firearm. The court ruled that Mr. Range could not own a gun as a convicted felon.
He appealed that decision in 2021, and as that appeal was working its way through the courts, the Bruen decision was released.
Under Bruen, the government must show that gun control laws align with the text of the Second Amendment and the history and tradition of American gun laws.
The Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that, under Bruen, there was no historical analog for depriving offenders like Mr. Range of their Second Amendment rights.
Mr. Range claimed that the courts have historically considered “dangerousness” as a factor in determining whether to revoke a Second Amendment right and that he was not convicted of a violent crime.
A majority of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals found that the government had not demonstrated a historical analog for taking Mr. Range’s Second Amendment rights. The court expressly refused to rule on Mr. Range’s dangerousness argument.
“We need not decide this [dangerousness] dispute today because the Government did not carry its burden to provide a historical analog to permanently disarm someone like Range, whether grounded in dangerousness or not,” the decision reads.
In its petition, the DOJ responded that American history shows a consistent pattern of revoking felons’ Second Amendment rights. DOJ lawyers wrote that dangerousness is not a requirement under Bruen.
According to the DOJ petition, Mr. Range’s conviction places him in “a category that properly excludes those who have demonstrated disregard for the rule of law through the commission of felony and felony equivalent offenses, from owning guns whether or not those crimes are violent.”
They wrote that Mr. Range’s case falls under the same law as Zackey Rahimi’s case in USA v. Rahimi and should be decided in light of the court’s decision in Rahimi.
“After deciding Rahimi, the Court should either (1) grant this petition, vacate the court of appeals’ judgment, and remand the case for reconsideration in light of Rahimi or (2) grant plenary review in this case or in another case that provides a more suitable vehicle for resolving Section 922(g)(1)’s constitutionality,” the DOJ petition states.
Violence Versus Non-Violence
Mr. Rahimi is an Arlington, Texas, drug dealer who abused his girlfriend and had a penchant for shooting at people who made him angry, according to court documents.
In 2019, his girlfriend petitioned the court and won a domestic violence restraining order against him under 18 USC 922 (g) (8). That federal law bars anyone subject to such an order from possessing or purchasing firearms.
After the order, which Mr. Rahimi reportedly agreed to, was issued, he assaulted another woman and was subsequently involved in at least five more shootings.
He claims 18 USC 922 (g) (8) is unconstitutional.
In their response to the DOJ petition, Mr. Range’s lawyers asked the court to hear Mr. Range’s case during the same term as the Rahimi case.
“These issues are complementary and important, and it would be beneficial for the Court’s decision-making to consider both during the same Term,” Mr. Range’s response reads.
The DOJ lawyers disagree. They say the cases should be decided in the order in which they were received.
“Because the Court is already considering closely related Second Amendment issues in United States v. Rahimi, plenary review is not warranted at this time. The Court should instead hold the petition for a writ of certiorari pending its decision in Rahimi and then dispose of the petition as appropriate,” the petition reads.