SCOTUS Upholds Reform in 1986
Firearms Owners Protection Act

By Dean Weingarten. July 8th, 2019
Original Source

In 1938, Congress, for the first time, created categories of people who could not legally possess firearms under federal law. In 1968, those categories were expanded. In 1986, under pressure from gun owners and the National Rifle Association, the law was reformed, so a person had to know they were in violation in order to be prosecuted. On 23 June 2019, the Supreme Court upheld the reform in the 1986 law.

Prosecution normally requires a person to know they are committing a crime, or that they are doing something wrong. From the decision:

As this Court has explained, the understanding that an injury is criminal only if inflicted knowingly “is as universal and persistent in mature systems of law as belief in freedom of the human will and a consequent ability and duty of the normal individual to choose between good and evil.”

The phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse” does not refer to acts where an ordinary person would believe they were engaged in innocent conduct. The phrase means a person does not have to be a legal scholar to break the law knowingly. People are expected to research the law if they are knowingly acting in areas that could reasonably be expected to be constrained by law. It has been perverted to mean a person can be convicted of crimes they committed without criminal or wrongful intent. There are few such cases; they are the exception, not the rule. They more commonly apply where penalties are much lower than a felony conviction and ten years in prison, such as exists in the firearms law. .....


Back to Top