A man convicted 25 years ago in Maryland on a misdemeanor charge for carrying a firearm without a license will see his Second Amendment rights restored, under a new federal court ruling issued Wednesday.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive director of the Washington-based The Second Amendment Foundation, which represented Julio Suarez, called the ruling “significant.”
“Under existing federal law many people convicted of non-violent state-level misdemeanors have lost their Second Amendment rights because they’ve been lumped together with convicted felons due to indeterminate sentencing laws,” Gottlieb said.
“That’s not right, and cases like this help restore some perspective and narrow some broad legislative brush strokes.”
The case provides a “building block” on which similar cases can be challenged, Gottlieb said.
Suarez, originally pulled over by police in 1990 on a suspected DUI charge, was convicted instead of possessing a firearm without a permit and sentenced to 180 days in prison, 1 year probation and a $500 fine. Court records show the terms of imprisonment and fine were both suspended.
The father of three, who has been married for 20 years and is an active member of his local church, has since led an “exemplary life,” Gottlieb said, but he noted the conviction was enough to cost Suarez his ability to buy and keep a firearm for defense of his home and family.
In a 26-page decision, Middle District Court Judge William W. Caldwell said Suarez “is no more dangerous than a typical law-abiding citizen and poses no continuing threat to society.”
“A person should not lose his or her constitutional rights for non-violent indiscretions that occur once in a lifetime,” said Second Amendment Foundation Attorney Alan Gura, who represented Suarez.
According to those involved with the case, the federal government argued those convicted of misdemeanors who could have served a year in prison should be treated as felons.
U.S. Department of Justice Attorney Daniel Riess told Fox News he could not make a statement on the case because it is still considered to be “pending," meaningthe government will appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Riess referred calls to DOJ public relations person Nicole Nazas, who told FoxNews.com that “we’re reviewing the opinion and considering any next steps.”