In news that should make gun owners quite happy, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court, which oversees 6 states and is based in Denver’s Byron White Courthouse issued a ruling in the case of Alexander Pauler, a Wichita, Kansas man who was deemed a prohibited firearms possessor following a misdemeanor domestic abuse case.
Pauler was found guilty of domestic abuse in 2009 after punching his girlfriend and, because of that, he was not allowed to be in the possession of a firearm. So we fast forward to 2014 when Pauler was found in possession of a firearm, after pulling it at a party. Pauler was now due in federal court because of the incident and was facing 24-30 months in prison for possessing it.
After a brief hearing, Pauler was found guilty and the sentence was laid down. 24-30 months in federal prison. However, the story did not end there. In 2016 Pauler and his attorneys reached a plea deal that reduced his sentence to five years of probation with no jail time but in the midst of this new round of arguments something strange happened …
Pauler’s route through the courts eventually found its way to the 10th Circuit in Denver which brings us to this week.
When the case hit the desk of the 10th Circuit Court, they began to see some irregularities with the law and the case took on a whole new meaning, now involving gun owner’s rights. Pauler’s case was even bigger than him and the judges used this example to make a statement about gun owners who have had their firearms taken from them. In their official statement, the judges stated that the law of the land …
“Clearly and consistently differentiates between state and local governments and between state statutes and municipal ordinances.”
What that means is that even with Pauler’s local misdemeanor, it should not affect his federal right to bear arms. The federal government supersedes the state in this matter of constitutional law.
10th Circuit Judge Monroe G. Mckay then stated in his official report that “the government has not demonstrated that he [Pauler] was prohibited from possessing a firearm.”
Now, what does this all mean? Well for Pauler it means that his prior crime of possessing a firearm is thrown out and his sentence is expunged. But, for former gun owners who’d like to defend themselves once more with a firearm, it could set the precedent that legal issues which don’t violate a federal crime may not afford local authorities the option to take your guns from you.
Many gun rights advocates are considering that a huge win and the start of a bright future for those who have had their guns taken from them by local law enforcement.
To be clear, if domestic abusers should or shouldn’t have guns is a big question … but not the question answered by this court decision. It’s a question relating to the State’s individual power to determine what should or shouldn’t qualify to strip someone of their second amendment rights vs the clear federal definition already in place.
What do you think about this change that may be occurring? Are you caught up on American Gun Law or was this a surprise to you? Do you think the 10th Circuit got this ruling right or should they have kept Pauler’s guns from him given the nature of his crimes? Let us know in the comments below.