Federal Court says Illegal aliens can\'t own handguns
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Federal Court says Illegal aliens can\'t own handguns

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May 9, 2012, 3:16 pm
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A federal appeals court says illegal immigrants don't have a right to own firearms under the U.S. Constitution.

Emmanuel Huitron-Guizar of Wyoming pleaded guilty to being an illegal immigrant in possession of firearms after his arrest last year. He was ordered held by immigration authorities at the Natrona County Detention Center in Wyoming.   

An attorney for Huitron-Guizar appealed the case, saying illegal immigrants are not excluded from possessing firearms like felons and people who are mentally ill, and should have the same rights as U.S. citizens to buy a gun for hunting and protection.   

The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Monday that illegal immigrants have only limited protection under the Constitution. The court said:

Congress may have concluded that illegal aliens, already in probable present violation of the law, simply do not receive the full panoply of constitutional rights enjoyed by law-abiding citizens. Or that such individuals, largely outside the formal system of registration, employment, and identification,are harder to trace and more likely to assume a false identity. 

Or Congress may have concluded that those who show a willingness to defy our law are candidates for further misfeasance or at least a group that ought not be armed when authorities seek them.

The law applies with equal force to those who entered yesterday and those who, like Mr. Huitron-Guizar, were carried across the border as a toddler.

The bottom line is that crime control and public safety are indisputably “important” interests. 

Nothing is this opinion purports to express an opinion on the Second Amendment rights of lawfully present aliens, yet we note that, since 1998, under this same statute, even those admitted on non-immigrant visas (usually issued to visitors for business or pleasure) are prohibited from having firearms and ammunition unless they secure a special waiver or happen to be hunters or diplomatic or law-enforcement officials here on business.

Author: Reynold Mason
Reynold N. Mason teaches law courses at Zenover Educational Institute In Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a judge on New York City Civil Court and, a Justice on New York State Supreme Court. Mason has been an adjunct professor of law at Medgar Evers College and Monroe College in New York. He has authored several legal opinions published in New York Miscellaneous Reports and New York Official Reports as well as the New York Law Journal. He lives in Atlanta.
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