Binderup v. Holder

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Binderup v. Holder was a legal test case brought by the National Rifle Association to challenge a federal statute which prohibits people convicted of serious crimes from purchasing guns.

The plaintiff Daniel Binderup was 41 years old at the time and has been married for many years. However, Binderup had an extra-marital affair with a girl under 18 years of age who worked at his bakery. On July 15, 1998, Binderup plead guilty in state court to one count of Corrupting a Minor, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301, a first degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to three years of probation. Binderup's conviction disqualified him from owning a gun under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). So, Binderup sold his gun.

While on probation, Binderup sought relief in state court, and on June 1, 1999, the county court of Common Pleas granted Binderup relief under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(d) removing the state law prohibition against him owing a gun. However the court order noted that it did not affect any federal prohibition.

People purchasing guns from licensed firearm dealers must fill out Form 4473 which asks,

Have you ever been convicted in a court of a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could have imprisioned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?

If the purchaser answers "Yes", the ATF instructs the gun dealer to refuse to make the sale, without running any further background check.[1]

On September 25, 2014, a federal district court upheld the government's position that the federal law covered Binderup, but found that the Second Amendment prohibited applying the law to Binderup in this specific case.[2] On September 9, 2016 the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an en banc opinion upholding the statutory interpretation of the federal law as applying to these crimes if the maximum penalty is three years even if a particular criminal was sentenced to a shorter period. On the Constitutional challenge, the Third Circuit upheld the federal statute, but found that Binderup's crime was not so serious as to terminate his Second Amendment rights.[3] On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.[4]

The result is to leave the federal law and its interpretation in tact, but to continue the possibility for case-by-case Second Amendment challenges by individuals who are convicted of "non-serious" crimes that are punishable by sentences of two years or less.