The Department of Justice advised Monday against bringing in a historian for a federal gun law case in Missouri concerning felons possessing firearms.
The brief was filed after federal judge Carlton Reeves issued an order requesting the DOJ and defendant Jessie Bullock determine whether a historian was needed to explain the context behind the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
The DOJ is currently engaged in a Missouri lawsuit to determine whether or not former felons have the right under the Second Amendment to obtain a firearm.
In Bruen, the Supreme Court determined that requiring individual gun owners to obtain a permit to carry in public went against the Founders’ intentions for the Second Amendment. The DOJ’s brief argued that the record on the restriction of felon access to guns had been thoroughly examined.
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“While determining the historical basis for gun regulations is no doubt important generally, the prohibition against felons possessing firearms is so thoroughly established as to not require detailed exploration of the historical record for the purpose of this case,” the brief read.
Additionally, the DOJ argued in the lawsuit that in this specific case, Bullock has multiple violent crimes on his record including murder, manslaughter, and aggravated assault. Bullock’s long history of violence, the DOJ states, does not require a historian to determine whether or not he would be fit to own a firearm.
“These are serious felony offenses that squarely place Bullock outside the scope of “‘law-abiding, responsible citizens’” whose interest in self-defense the Second Amendment is intended to protect,” the brief stated.
In November, Reeves wrote a harsh order that heavily criticized the Supreme Court’s historical interpretation of Bruen.
“The Bruen Court acknowledged only that “historical analysis can be difficult,” Reeves wrote. “That is an understatement.”
Reeves later criticized the court for expecting judges to “play historian” when determining the intentions of the Founder’s regarding the Second Amendment. Reeves concluded that the court “is not a trained historian” and asked both Bullock and the DOJ to determine within 30 days whether a historian would be needed in order to give an accurate account of previous gun regulations.
“And we are not experts in what white, wealthy, and male property owners thought about firearms regulation in 1791,’ Reeves stated. “Yet we are now expected to play historian in the name of constitutional adjudication.”