"Can I buy a gun?"
That's a question we get a lot around here from people who have some sort of criminal conviction. This makes sense: whether you like it or not, our state constitution and the U.S. Constitution guarantee some sort of right to bear arms. The late Justice Antonin Scalia authored a couple of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that said this right really didn't have anything to do with a well-regulated militia and had a lot more to do with self-defense. (Our state constitution was already pretty clear about this right for self-defense). And people are passionate about firearms-some for the wrong reasons, but most for the right.
But there is still the legitimate worry that when guns fall into the wrong hands, people can get hurt. This is why most states, including Michigan, prohibit those who have been convicted of felonies from being able to buy guns unless certain requirements are met.
Recent court case sheds light on this issue for Michigan gun owners
In a recent case, People v Brady, a Wayne County man who had previously been convicted of a felony, and who had not met the requirements to get his gun rights back, was found with a firearm and therefore charged under Michigan's felon-in-possession (FIP) statute. He argued that the FIP statute was unconstitutional under both the Michigan Constitution and the U.S. Constitution because his right to bear arms for self-defense was infringed.
The Michigan Court of Appeals didn't buy the argument. The court noted that even Justice Scalia said his gun-rights decisions should not be "taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons." The Court of Appeals also pointed to a host of other cases that decided more or less the same thing.
State and federal gun rights can be difficult for felons to restore
So what does this mean for you? Well, if you have a felony conviction on your record, it means that you cannot rely on some vague understanding of the Second Amendment to protect you from further criminal charges if you have a gun. There are a number of hoops you have to jump through to get your state gun rights back; there is also a whole different set of hoops when dealing with the federal government. This means that even if your state gun rights are restored, you can still be charged with FIP under federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court has said as much. If you are a gun lover and facing criminal charges, be mindful that there is more at stake than jail time and fines: If found guilty of a felony, you will have virtually no gun rights for at least three years.
If you have a felony conviction already or are potentially facing one, give our office a call. Our criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to ensuring that our clients' rights are protected-all of their rights.