U.S. District Court Judge Rules Law Prohibiting Addicts and Persons Illegally Using Controlled Substances from Possessing Firearms Does Not Violate Second Amendment

A U.S. District Court judge in Chicago has ruled that the federal law prohibiting drug addicts and people who illegally use controlled substances from possessing firearms does not violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the Northern District of Illinois acknowledged the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 had adopted a new standard for determining whether particular conduct may be regulated by the government without running afoul of the right to bear arms.

The U.S. Supreme Court in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), narrowed the category of firearm-related acts that the government can regulate.

“When the Second Amendment’s plain text protects certain conduct, the government can regulate such conduct only if it can demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the historical tradition of firearm regulation in the United States. Otherwise, the courts must conclude that the individual’s firearm-related conduct is protected because it falls within the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”

Judge Gettleman wrote that the prohibition in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) on drug addicts or habitual users possessing firearms is consistent with the United States’ tradition of firearm regulation.

And a regulation that is “relevantly” similar to historical regulations passes muster under the Second Amendment, the opinion stated. “In this case, Section 922(g)(3) is relevantly similar to regulations aimed at preventing dangerous or untrustworthy persons from possessing and using firearms, such as individuals convicted of felonies or suffering from mental illness.”

Judge Gettleman denied a motion by John Stiwert to dismiss the indictment brought against him under the statute.

In July 2020, agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched Stiwert’s home after obtaining a search warrant.

The agents maintained that they found more than 100 firearms, including the one Stiwert is charged with illegally possessing. Stiwert acknowledged he is addicted to heroin and crack cocaine and admitted he had been using drugs daily for 20 years. The federal grand jury indicted Stiwert in August 2020 on one count of violating Section 922(g)(3). In March, Stiwert filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that bringing the charge against him violated the Second Amendment.

But Stiwert later dropped the motion. In two Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals cases, it was held that, “The Seventh Circuit determined that habitual drug users are like felons and the mentally ill, both of whom legislatures have historically disarmed,” Judge Gettleman wrote citing United States v. Yancey, 622 Fed.3d 681 (7th Cir. 2010) and the United States v. Cook, 970 Fed.3d 866 (7th Cir. 2020).

“Because of this conclusion, the court held that the government’s legitimate interest in preventing violent crimes was substantially related to the statute’s ban on firearm possession by unlawful drug users.”

Although Stiwert renewed his motion in August after the Supreme Court ruled in Bruen, the court held that Stiwert still could not show his Second Amendment rights were being violated.

“As the government notes, federal law, not Illinois law, as Stiwert argues – defines who is an unlawful user of a controlled substance for the purpose of [Section] 922(g)(3).”

United States v. John Stiwert, 20 CR 443.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling federal civil lawsuits, federal and state appeals, and commercial litigation for individuals, families, and businesses for more than 45 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, Prospect Heights, Bridgeview, Elk Grove Village, Bloomingdale, Oak Brook, Westchester, Naperville, Evergreen Park, Oak Forest, Homewood, Dolton, Vernon, Blue Island, Cicero, West Chicago, St. Charles, Batavia, Aurora, Wilmette, Chicago (Logan Square, Old Irving Park, Belmont Gardens, West Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village, Noble Square, Near North Side, Homan Square, Lower West Side, Chinatown, South Loop, Burnham Park, Kenwood, Canaryville, Bridgeport), Cicero, Berkeley, Bellwood and Elmwood Park, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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