Judge Rules California Can’t Cancel the Gun Rights of People Whose Felony Convictions Have Been Vacated

California Attorney General Rob Bonta
The California AG takes another L. (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Most people know that felons (and those convicted of misdemeanors with penalties of more than one year) lose their gun rights. We can argue whether those who have been convicted and serve their time should later have their rights restored, but that’s another matter for another day. The question at hand in a US District Court in California was the Golden State’s practice of ignoring when individuals’ felony convictions had been vacated.

Three individuals had been convicted of non-violent felonies in other states, but subsequently had their convictions dismissed. The state of California, however, doesn’t let extenuating circumstances like that get in its way when an opportunity to deprive someone of their gun rights. Well, not until yesterday when a Judge James Donato granted summary judgement to the three plaintiffs.

Here’s the Second Amendment Foundation’s announcement . . .

A federal judge in California has granted summary judgment to three individuals in a lawsuit challenging that state’s Penal Code which permanently denies Second Amendment rights to people who have had felony convictions vacated, set aside or dismissed, and their rights to possess firearms fully restored. The case is known as Linton v. Bonta.

U.S. District Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California wrote, “After multiple hearings and several rounds of briefing, and in light of the guidance provided by New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen…the Court concludes that California has violated the Second Amendment rights of the individual plaintiffs. Consequently, summary judgment is granted in favor of (Chad) Linton, (Paul McKinley) Stewart, and (Kendall) Jones on their as applied Second Amendment claim.”

The case was originally filed in December 2018. They are represented by attorney George Lee of Seiler Epstein, LLP in San Francisco. The challenge was originally brought by SAF, the Calguns Foundation, Madison Society Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation and the three individuals. In his opinion, Judge Donato dismissed all the institutional plaintiffs. SAF continues to support the case.

According to SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “The three individual plaintiffs were all convicted of non-violent felonies in other states decades ago. None of the convictions involved a weapon, drugs, or violence, in the ordinary meaning of the word. Each of the plaintiffs had their conviction vacated, set aside, or dismissed, and their right to possess firearms restored by the jurisdiction in which they were convicted. Linton legally acquired firearms in California on prior occasions, and Jones was a career law enforcement officer in California with special training and certification as a firearms instructor. Even so, California acted to permanently deny them of the right to possess or own firearms, solely on the basis of their original convictions.”

“This is a huge victory,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “It could amount to a first major step to create an avenue for other people with similar circumstances to return to lives of full citizenship. We’re delighted with Judge Donato’s ruling. This is just one more example of our mission to win firearms freedom, one lawsuit at a time.”

2 Responses

  1. If California were allowed to take away constitutional rights of people who have had their non-violent felonies and/or convictions dismissed. 80% of the elected officials and state employees in California would not have any constitutional rights. If you can take away the 2A right for a person who has had their non-violent felonies and/or convictions dismissed, you can take away any constitutional right from any other person who has had their non-violent felonies and/or convictions dismissed.

  2. This is good, we know Amy Coney-Barrett is cool with that, as well.

    It won’t surprise me if the soon-upcoming Rahimi ruling drops that turd in the Leftist Scum’s ™ punch bowl.

    This is WHY I’ve recently been saying to stock up on ammo and few extra new guns to exploit a SCotUS ruling that instantly makes tens of MILLIONS of newly-eligible gun owners.

    Gun stores are gonna get cleaned out in record time. That many new gun owners should also make the major ammo manufacturers build or expand new production lines.

    Remember, you heard it here first, folks, because I will be gloating when it happens… 😉

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