Second Amendment Victory: Court Protects Gun Rights for Non-Violent Offender

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

In a significant victory for Second Amendment advocates, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bryan Range, a Pennsylvania man barred from possessing firearms due to a non-violent conviction. This ruling, a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, reinforces the principles of individual liberty and emphasizes the importance of adhering to constitutional rights. Even better, it could signify some positive developments in the future when it comes to protecting the right to keep and bear arms for those convicted of non-violent offenses.


The 11-4 ruling was handed down on Tuesday:

Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), a pro-Second Amendment nonprofit that filed amicus briefs during the appellate process, lauded the ruling, referring to its “potential implications for countless others who have been wrongfully disarmed. In a statement, the organization noted:

“At root, the Government’s claim that only ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens’ are protected by the Second Amendment devolves authority to legislators to decide whom to exclude from ‘the people,’” wrote Judge Hardiman in the majority opinion. “We reject that approach because such ‘extreme deference gives legislatures unreviewable power to manipulate the Second Amendment by choosing a label.’”

FPC and FPCAF filed amicus briefs in this case at both the 3-judge and en banc panel stages, and FPCAF’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee, argued the case as an amicus curiae before the 3-judge panel.

Greenlee’s authoritative scholarship on the issue, an article published by the Wyoming Law Review in 2020, was cited in both a concurring and dissenting opinion, as it had been by the 3-judge panel opinion. His newest article on the issue argues for a result consistent with today’s ruling by the en banc majority.

“For nearly three decades, Mr. Range has been unjustly denied his Second Amendment rights,” said Greenlee. “We’re thrilled that Mr. Range’s rights have been restored, and about the decision’s potential implications for countless others who have been wrongfully disarmed.”

Range v. Garland is the first post-Bruen en banc victory, and on an issue FPC and FPCAF have been actively engaged on. FPC and FPCAF will continue to seek the restoration of natural, fundamental, and enumerated rights for all of the People through its leading scholarly and litigation work.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals made the right ruling in this case. Judge Hardiman was right to emphasize that the government’s claim of protecting only “law-abiding, responsible citizens” fails to uphold the true essence of the Second Amendment. By allowing legislators to arbitrarily determine who should be excluded from this constitutional right, the court rightly rejects the notion of granting unreviewable power to manipulate the Second Amendment based on labeling individuals. Unfortunately, far too many Americans have been prohibited from arming themselves because of these intrusive laws.


The court’s ruling in Range v. Garland is not only a victory for Bryan Range but also has the potential to affect numerous individuals who have been wrongly disarmed due to non-violent convictions. For nearly three decades, Range was unjustly denied his Second Amendment rights, but this decision sets an important precedent for the protection of these rights. It underscores the need for a balanced approach that considers the context of non-violent convictions when determining an individual’s eligibility to exercise their constitutional rights.

To put it simply, there is absolutely no justification for depriving nonviolent offenders of their right to keep and bear arms – these laws should have never existed in the first place. Hopefully, this ruling will be a significant step in the right direction.


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