The PJ Tatler

U.S. Court of Appeals: Illegal Immigrants Can’t Own Guns

(Hat tip to Dan Gifford)

Reuters reported:

“Executing a search warrant in 2010, police uncovered a semi-automatic handgun in Bravo Flores’ Minneapolis apartment. A grand jury indicted him for being an alien in possession of a firearm in violation of federal law. He was sentenced to three years in prison.”

(What is curiously omitted is that police also found “five pounds of marijuana, and small quantities of both cocaine and methamphetamine.” He wasn’t prosecuted as a drug dealer in possession of a firearm, which would have enhanced federal sentencing. See U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 924, Subsection (c), which requires a prison sentence “of not less than 5 years.”)

Flores appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction:

“Joaquin Bravo Flores was indicted on a charge of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(5)(A) and 924(a)(2). Flores moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that § 922(g)(5)(A) was facially unconstitutional in light of District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). The district court denied the motion, and Flores appeals. Agreeing with the Fifth Circuit that the protections of the Second Amendment do not extend to aliens illegally present in this country…we affirm.”

U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 922 says:

“(g) It shall be unlawful for any person—(5) who, being an alien—(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States…”

U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 924 says:

“(2) Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a)(6), (d), (g), (h), (i), (j), or (o) of section 922 shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.”

Heller struck down the draconian D.C. handgun possession ban, but also concluded: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.” For example, the Supreme Court wrote: “The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons…”

Which takes us back to Flores. Federal law requires immigrants to take such actions as registering and possessing entry documents, among other things. Flores chose to violate federal law, making himself a criminal. Banning firearms possession by a premeditated and long-time criminal is well within the Heller ruling, and the courts made the right call.

Now here’s the hook: Flores was represented by “Federal defender Andrea George.” So, Flores got his day in court, and American taxpayers footed all attorney and court costs.