Amy Coney Barrett Thinks the Second Amendment Prohibits Blanket Bans on Gun Possession by People With Felony Records
Rickey Kanter, who owned a Wisconsin company that sold therapeutic shoes and footwear inserts under the brand name Dr. Comfort, pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of mail fraud for shipping inserts he falsely claimed were approved by Medicare to a podiatrist in Florida. Kanter received a prison sentence of a year and day, followed by two years of supervised release. He also paid a $50,000 fine and agreed, in a separate civil settlement, to pay Medicare a $27 million reimbursement. But that was not the end of his punishment, since his felony conviction meant that he permanently lost the constitutional right to possess firearms.
That categorical ban on gun ownership by people with felony records, a feature of both Wisconsin and federal law, cannot be reconciled with the Second Amendment, Supreme Court contender Amy Coney Barrett concluded in a 37-page dissent from a 2019 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Barrett’s thorough and scholarly opinion marks her as a judge committed to applying constitutional provisions in light of their historical background and original public meaning.
In the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court recognized that the Second Amendment protects the right to own guns for self-defense. At the same time, the majority opinion mentioned some “presumptively lawful regulatory measures,” including “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill.” But both Barrett and her two colleagues on a 7th Circuit panel, who upheld the federal and Wisconsin bans that Kanter challenged, agreed that Heller did not settle the question of whether the Second Amendment allows the government to disarm someone like him.
“The constitutionality of felon dispossession was not before the Court in Heller, and because it explicitly deferred analysis of this issue, the scope of its assertion is unclear,” Barrett wrote. “For example, does ‘presumptively lawful’ mean that such regulations are presumed lawful unless a historical study shows otherwise? Does it mean that
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