Louisville Trial Court Rules State Law Against Felons in Possession is Unconstitutional


Jan 20, 2007
Relying heavily on N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n v. Bruen, a state court judge has ruled Kentucky's law against felons possessing firearms is unconstitutional. Opinion and Order. The Commonwealth argued Bruen applied only to "law-abiding" citizens and that the defendant in the case had not been law-abiding. The judge basically said that portion of Bruen did not apply since it only dealt with a law-abiding citizens and not to non law-abiding citizens:
The Commonwealth first urges the Court to apply Bruen’s historical analysis in a different manner than Defendant altogether by arguing that Second Amendment protections apply only to “law-abiding citizens” as referenced in Bruen. However, this argument does not consider that the individuals in the Bruen case were in fact law-abiding – the issue of whether non law-abiding individuals received Second Amendment protections was not before the Court.
Opinion at p. 3.
The Court disagreed with the Commonwealth's argument that the Second Amendment was a "civic right" dependent upon an individual's virtuousness. Instead, the Court stated:
This notion, however, is inconsistent with Heller. Heller implicitly rejected the concept that the Second Amendment protects a purely civic right, instead assuring that the Second Amendment “confer an individual right to keep and bear arms,” 554 U.S. at 595 (emphasis by state court).

Opinion at p. 4
The Court found that history and tradition supported its opinion that Second Amendment rights were not merely "civic rights."
Unlike the civic rights of voting and jury duty, states which protected the right to bear arms in their constitutions lacked any exception for criminals. By 1820, nine states had enshrined the right to bear arms in their constitution. See Eugene Volokh, State Constitutional Rights to Keep and Bear Arms, 11 Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 191, 208 (2006). Of those nine states, none had any exception for criminals, while seven explicitly excluded or authorized the exclusion of certain criminals from the right to vote. Id. Thus, there is no basis, historical or otherwise, which supports the idea that the right to bear arms was simply tied to whether the individual was virtuous or not.
Opinion at pp. 5-6.
Story from WDRB (linking to the Opinion and Order). Note, however, that a second article indicates that the Court may issue a supplemental order that might affect the procedural process of the case.
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How would a trial court rule on an issue of law/
This is a ruling on a motion to dismiss. In such matters, the facts are viewed most favorably to the non-moving party. The court determines the law of the case.

Trial court opinions generally do not establish precedent that is binding on other courts. Still, it is good to see that some judges try to comply with the precedent established by USSC.
So, this is only a binding decision on the commonwealth of KY? Or not even for that? And it’s just against the state prohibition for felon possession, right?
I am not familiar with the organization of the courts of Kentucky, but normally a motion to dismiss and resulting order affects only the parties to that specific case.
So, this is only a binding decision on the commonwealth of KY? Or not even for that? And it’s just against the state prohibition for felon possession, right?
It is not binding on any other court in the state. The prosecutor’s office will appeal if the judge does not modify the ruling (highly unlikely the bottom line would change). The prosecutor would then appeal and any published opinion would be binding in the state.
Still a way to go, but it’s the first step here.