Politics

Circuit Court Rules Second Amendment Applies To Those In The U.S. Illegally

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

After Mariano Meza-Rodriguez was arrested in 2013 following a bar fight in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police found a .22-caliber bullet in his shorts pocket. The case was complicated by the fact that Meza-Rodriguez’s parents brought him into the U.S. illegally when he was a child, The Associated Press reported.

Though federal law prohibits those in the country illegally from possessing guns or ammunition, Meza-Rodriguez argued that the law infringed on his constitutional right to bear arms.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa ruled that the Second Amendment didn’t apply to those in the country illegally and Meza-Rodriguez received a felony conviction and was deported. The case went to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on Aug. 20 that “the people” applies to people who are in the U.S. illegally.

"It is now clear that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no second-class entitlement, (and) we see no principled way to carve out the Second Amendment and say that the unauthorized (or maybe all noncitizens) are excluded," Judge Diane Wood wrote in the ruling.

"No language in the Amendment supports such a conclusion, nor, as we have said, does a broader consideration of the Bill of Rights."

Meza-Rodriguez’s conviction was upheld and his felon status will prevent him from reentering the U.S. legally, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“(His) unsavory traits, including his multiple brushes with the law, failure to file tax returns and lack of a steady job, demonstrate that he has not sufficiently accepted the obligations of living in American society,” Wood wrote. Joseph Bugni, Meza-Rodriguez's attorney, argued that the decision is contradictory and plans to ask the court to reviews his client’s case, threatening to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. 

The decision applies in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, but there are some restrictions in place — felons and people with domestic violence convictions still can’t purchase weapons.

Sources: AP, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Photo credit: Emily Stanchfield/Flickr