The federal government is denying an upstanding citizen his constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms because of a 15-year-old misdemeanor. Raymond Holloway Jr. is a resident of Pottstown, PA. More importantly, he’s an American citizen entitled to the protection of his right to own a firearm according to the United States Constitution. In keeping with this right, in 2016, he decided to purchase a firearm to keep in his home because he was concerned for his family’s safety and wanted to be able to protect both himself and his family.
Yet, when Mr. Holloway underwent the federally required background check to make the purchase he was denied. Why? Simply because he had been convicted of a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge more than ten years before, when he was still in his early twenties. In the many years since, Mr. Holloway has lived as a responsible and valuable member of his local community, yet the government continues to deny him his natural and fundamental right to keep and bear arms—a clear violation of the Second Amendment.
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Raymond Holloway Jr. holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Shippensburg University. The small town of Pottsville, PA, where Mr. Holloway makes his home, is a sleepy old railroad town, built around an old steel and iron mill.
For work, Mr. Holloway commutes about an hour south to the Abraxas Academy, a special school where juvenile delinquents are educated and rehabilitated. He has worked at the school for twelve years and is a supervisor in the education department. He helps students obtain work skills and often assists them one-on-one in obtaining employment prior to their discharge form the facility.
Despite his long record as a responsible member of society, entrusted with mentoring and educating troubled youth, the federal government is denying Mr. Holloway’s right to own and keep a firearm in his home, simply because of his misdemeanor DUI history that is now more than fifteen years in the past.
Current federal law prohibits individuals that have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment of a term exceeding one year from possessing firearms—for life. The prohibition is not limited to those who commit violent crimes, felonies, or even those who were actually sentenced to more than one-year imprisonment. The law is so broad that it unconstitutionally prohibits non-violent individuals, like Mr. Holloway, from possessing firearms.
To be clear, Mr. Holloway was only sentenced to 90 days confinement on work release in 2005. No one was injured during his incident. And Mr. Holloway’s background check reflects no other criminal conviction other than his 2005 misdemeanor DUI. He has lived, in all the years since, as a responsible, law-abiding citizen with no history of violent behavior or other conduct that would suggest he poses any threat or danger. But still, because a misdemeanor DUI, in the state of Pennsylvania, is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, Mr. Holloway is prohibited from owning a firearm.
This law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) does not comport with the original meaning of the Second Amendment. In the Founding Era, the only individuals who could be prohibited from owning Arms were those that had exhibited violent behavior—predominately those guilty of violent insurrection. Further, because the law applies to crimes punishable by more than one year’s imprisonment, the law applies differently from state to state, where legislatures are allowed to determine the appropriate punishments in their states. Being convicted of the same misdemeanor in another state would not have lost Mr. Holloway his rights.
Numerous sound, stable, trustworthy individuals, such as Mr. Holloway, are denied their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms in defense of their homes, merely as the result of minor, non-violent convictions without any consideration of their particular circumstances of the individual.
The federal government is arbitrarily denying Mr. Holloway his rights, along with an entire class of people like him.
Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms has joined with the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, the Independence Institute, and the Individual Rights Foundation to support Mr. Holloway’s petition to the Supreme Court to hear his case.
We are arguing that the court must restore to Mr. Holloway, and others like him, the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed in the Constitution.