PA Appeals Court Upholds Ruling on Armed Felons

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

The Bruen decision has upended the previous order of things concerning guns. Now, a lot of people are using the decision to try and overturn rules and regulations, and that's a good thing.


But there's also a lot of rules that the Supreme Court clearly wanted to remain in place.

That brings us to the question of armed felons.

Now, my take has always been that if someone is too dangerous to be trusted with their rights, why are they out on the streets in the first place? Not everyone agrees, though, and the law says convicted felons can't have guns.

But one in Pennsylvania tried to get his conviction overturned because of Bruen. That effort isn't going well.

A state appellate court panel has rejected the contention by a Chester County man that his conviction on charges that he illegally possessed a handgun was unconstitutional because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cutting down laws regulating gun ownership.

In a 41-page decision, the state Superior Court ruling by President Judge Anne Lazarus, President Judge Emeritus Jack Panella and Senior Judge James Gardner Collins said they did not believe the claim that the state’s law prohibiting a person from possessing a firearm if they had been convicted of a list of 38 offenses was invalidated by the higher court’s ruling in the case of a New York law struck down in 2022.

The Supreme Court case, referred to as Bruen, after the New York superintendent of police, held that gun control laws must be consistent with the United States’ historical tradition of firearm regulation. Thus, if convicts in the 19th century were permitted to own or possess firearms, the court suggested, then they could not be prohibited from doing so today.

But the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, and the judge who presided over the man’s trial in 2022, now Senior Judge Jeffrey Sommer, said that the court’s decision in Bruen made a distinction between “law-abiding” persons and those who had been found guilty of serious crimes.

In an email sent to prosecutors in the D.A.’s Office last month after the panel issued its ruling, written by Panella, Deputy District Attorney Gerald Morano, who argued the case on appeal, said that the panel “found that convicted violent offenders such as (defendant Jonathan) McIntyre are not considered as the law-abiding ‘people’ who have a right to possess arms under the Second Amendment.


Whether this case goes any further or not remains to be seen. Attorneys for the defendant are looking into their options, but I really don't see the state supreme court ruling any differently, much less the U.S. Supreme Court doing so.

The truth of the matter is that most people favor disarming violent felons. Non-violent felons are a different matter in some regards, though many don't even want them to have the right to keep and bear arms. What that means, though, is that this majority also extends into the judicial branches of government, both state and federal.

It's no surprise that the judge's ruling was upheld and I suspect we're going to keep seeing it be upheld. The truth is that there's little chance of changing the rules regarding felons, particularly violent ones, anytime soon.

Not that it keeps them from getting guns, obviously. This is a case of an armed felon, after all, which shows just how little the laws in question do to keep such people disarmed, but it's still the law and few people are really going to change it. The courts aren't, from what we've seen, and the legislatures definitely aren't.

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