SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales and his Republican opponent are weighing in on a ruling this week that will allow people under felony indictment to purchase guns.
A federal judge in West Texas ruled Monday that it’s no longer constitutional to ban them from doing so.
U.S. District Judge David Counts, whom then-President Donald Trump appointed to the federal bench, dismissed a federal indictment against Jose Gomez Quiroz that had charged him under the federal ban.
“This precedent, if allowed to stand, threatens any reasonable restriction on gun ownership, regardless of how important those restrictions are for protecting public safety,” Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“As Bexar County District Attorney, my job is to protect public safety and decisions like this make that job exponentially more difficult. I hope this decision is overturned, as court decisions like this one make it nearly impossible to keep guns off of the streets,” Gonzales continued.
Gonzales and his Republican opponent appear to be on the same page about this issue. Marc LaHood said the ruling means “the danger level to residents of Bexar County is way up.”
“The reason this court decision is important, is because it is a matter of life and death. We can provide the names of those who were released and then committed murder already. This is not an academic question,” LaHood said.
According to Counts’ ruling, Quiroz was under a state burglary indictment when he tried to buy a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun and challenged the ensuing federal charge.
In a 25-page opinion filed in Pecos, Texas, Counts acknowledged “this case’s real-world consequences — certainly valid public policy and safety concerns exist.” However, he said a Supreme Court ruling this summer in a challenge brought by the New York Rifle & Pistol Association “framed those concerns solely as a historical analysis.”
“Although not exhaustive, the Court’s historical survey finds little evidence that ... (the federal ban) — which prohibits those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm — aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition.”
Hence, he ruled the ban unconstitutional as the “Second Amendment is not a 'second class right,” as noted in a 2008 Supreme Court ruling. ”No longer can courts balance away a constitutional right," Counts wrote. After the New York case, "the Government must prove that laws regulating conduct covered by the Second Amendment’s plain text align with this Nation’s historical tradition. The Government does not meet that burden."
In the New York case, the high court held by a 6-3 vote, with conservative justices forming the majority, that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. The June 23 ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, was seen then as likely to lead to more people being legally armed.
**Editor’s Note: The Associated Press contributed to this article.