Another Post-Heller Second Amendment Decision:

U.S. v. Robinson (E.D. Wis. July 23) (Adelman, J.):

[D]efendant fails to show that Heller renders his prosecution [for being a felon in possession of a firearm] constitutionally infirm....

First, defendant fails to demonstrate that Heller applies to felons. The Court specifically stated in that case:

There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not. Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose....

Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Defendant claims that this is dicta, but I cannot so quickly dismiss this explicit limitation on the Court’s holding. Further, defendant cites no authority in support of his claim that the Second Amendment right extends to felons. To my knowledge, no court has, even under an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, found 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) constitutionally suspect. E.g., United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203, 262-63 (5th Cir. 2001) (finding that the Second Amendment protects individual rights, but nevertheless upholding § 922(g)(8)); [also citing some post-Heller district court and unpublished circuit court cases]. Finally, the Seventh Circuit regularly rejected such challenges pre-Heller, see, e.g., United States v. Price, 328 F.3d 958, 961 (7th Cir. 2003) (noting that even advocates of an individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment excluded felons), and nothing in Heller persuades me that the court of appeals is likely to change course now.

Second, defendant can find little support in Heller given the circumstances of his case. Heller’s actual holding is:

that the District’s ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

Defendant contends that he was accosted by police on the porch of his home and found to be in possession of a firearm, which he claims he possessed to protect himself and his family in the high crime area in which they lived. However, he glosses over the circumstances of his encounter with the police. [Details omitted. -EV] Even under its broadest possible reading, Heller does not sanction a felon carrying a gun in his pocket in public, then pulling that gun on a police officer [which is what the court concludes happened here -EV]. The Second Amendment interests in self-defense and protection of the home discussed in Heller cannot reasonably be extended to cover defendant’s conduct here.