- Hundreds of convicted felons could walk free in Chicago alone after Democrat-appointed judge rules insists they are allowed guns
- Comes as gun control laws across the country topple in the face of last year’s Supreme Court ruling that they must have ‘historical analogues’
- Chicago Judge Robert Gettleman insists he could find no analogue for the law – despite a search stretching back to a New Netherland ruling of 1639
A serial armed robber has escaped a mandatory 15-year prison sentence for illegally owning a gun after a Chicago judge said convicted felons are also protected by the Second Amendment.
Glen Prince, 37, already had three armed robberies and the aggravated battery of a police officer on his record when he was arrested for robbing three men on a CTA train in September 2021.
Police found cocaine, a stolen credit card, a cache of bullets and a fully loaded 9mm Smith and Wesson on him when they arrested him, despite the federal law banning felons from possessing handguns.
But Judge Robert Gettleman threw out the charge, citing statutes of the Revolutionary War and a momentous Supreme Court ruling last year that insists modern gun control laws must have ‘historical analogues’ to survive a legal challenge.
‘Although there are strong policy reasons for doing everything possible to keep guns off our streets and out of our communities, this court can find no such historical analog,’ he said in his judgement.
Serial armed robber Glen Prince, 37, was freed by a court which ruled the federal ban on felons possessing firearms is unconstitutional after a Supreme Court decision last year
Judge Robert Gettleman (left) said prosecutors had failed to prove that felons are excluded from ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment and cited the Supreme Court ruling delivered last year by Justice Clarence Thomas (right) which demands ‘historical analogues’ for gun control laws
Hundreds of convicted felons are due to face trial for illegally owning guns in Chicago alone.
But Gettleman claimed the ban on felons owning guns was a greater threat to liberty than the 1791 law which took guns from colonists who would not declare their loyalty to the new republic.
He said he had searched rulings dating back to Rhode Island in 1677 and New Netherland in 1639 without finding a satisfactory precedent for the ban.
And he said prosecutors had failed to prove that felons are excluded from ‘the people’ protected by the Second Amendment.
State gun control laws have started toppling across the country since the Supreme Court’s Bruen case last year which was brought by the New York Rifle and Pistol Association to challenge the state’s restrictive concealed carry law.
Despite New York’s law dating back to 1911, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas ruled that gun control laws must be ‘consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition’.
The decision was hailed as a ‘watershed win’ by the NRA, which insisted ‘the right to self-defense and to defend your family and loved ones should not end at your home.’
But it prompted outrage from gun control advocates including President Joe Biden who said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ in a ruling that ‘contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all’.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said it marked a ‘a dark day in America’, while New York Mayor Eric Adams said it ‘opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation’.
‘We cannot allow New York to become the wild, wild West,’ he added.
But dozens of state laws have since been overturned including bans on people facing domestic violence restraining orders, limits on guns at summer camps and churches, and even a law requiring guns to have serial numbers.
The administration hit back last month demanding the Supreme Court overrule a Philadelphia Court decision that the ban could not apply to a man convicted of food-stamp fraud.
‘Many aspects of Second Amendment doctrine rest on the premise that the amendment protects only law-abiding citizens, not felons,’ Justice Department lawyers wrote.
The 6-3 Supreme Court ruling came along ideological lines, with the court’s conservative majority all voting in favor of striking down the New York law
Judge Gettleman admitted that his decision was finely balanced because ‘violence plagues our communities and that allowing those who potentially pose a threat to the orderly functioning of society to be armed is a dangerous precedent.’
And he admitted that guns have become more powerful, and violence more pervasive, since the 1790s, but he insisted it did not ‘justify a different result’.
‘This nation’s gun violence problem is devastating, but does not change this result under Bruen, which this court finds rests on the severity of (firearm law) rather than its categorical prohibition,’ he wrote.
The US Attorney General’s office immediately appealed the ruling, and Prince was immediately rearrested by Chicago Police on separate charges.