According to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, September 7th, the men may own guns because they only committed minor crimes. However, the crimes the men committed could have resulted in jail time of two years or more. The court voted 8-7 on the decision to restore gun rights to people who have committed minor crimes.
Daniel Binderup of Manheim, PA, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor corruption of minors charge in 1998 in Pennsylvania. Binderup had a sexual relationship, which was consensual, with a 17-year-old girl who worked at his bakery. His sentence included a fine and probation. However, the charge allowed for a prison sentence of 5 years.
Julio Suarez of Gettysburg, PA, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor possession of a handgun without a license charge in Maryland. His sentence was suspended and he had to pay a fine. However, the charge allowed for a prison sentence of 3 years.
According to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, someone would have to commit a serious crime in order to be banned from owning guns in the United States. The court says that the decision to allow someone’s gun rights to be restored is being based on the seriousness of the crime, not on whether the punishment for the crime is a prison sentence of at least two years. For instance, the crimes Binderup and Suarez committed were misdemeanors. U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro wrote the following, “With not a single day of jail time, the punishments here reflect the sentencing judges’ assessment of how minor the violations were.”
According to Ambro, the U.S. attorney’s office suggested that Suarez is a “potentially irresponsible” individual who may abuse firearms. Ambro also said the U.S. attorney’s office believes Binderup might commit crimes again. Ambro disagreed with the U.S. attorney’s office’s thoughts, saying, “neither the evidence in the record nor common sense supports those assertions.”
According to U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman, there is a reason the right to own guns may be revoked from individuals. Hardiman said that reason is because they have “demonstrated that they would present a danger to the public if armed.” Hardiman said the following about the decision to restore gun rights to the two men, “The government has presented no evidence that either Binderup or Suarez has been, or would be, dangerous, violent, or irresponsible with firearms.”
U.S. Circuit Judge Julio Fuentes disagreed with restoring the mens’ gun rights. According to Fuentes, Congress can disallow gun ownership rights to individuals who were convicted of crimes. He also said a crime is considered to be serious when a person can be sent to jail for over two years. Fuentes said the following, “Binderup and Suarez are, in effect, saying, ‘Trust us: we are not the kind of people who will cause future gun violence,'” Fuentes wrote. “The problem is that it is practically impossible to make this kind of individualized prediction with any degree of confidence. Mistakes — costly ones — are simply too likely.”