Guns ruling spurs legal challenges by felons
WASHINGTON (AP) — Twice convicted of felonies, James Francis Barton Jr. faces charges of violating a federal law barring felons from owning guns after police found seven pistols, three shotguns and five rifles at his home south of Pittsburgh.
As a defense, Barton and several other defendants in federal gun cases argue that last month's Supreme Court ruling allows them to keep loaded handguns at home for self-defense.
"Felons, such as Barton, have the need and the right to protect themselves and their families by keeping firearms in their home," says David Chontos, Barton's court-appointed lawyer.
Chontos and other criminal defense lawyers say the high court's decision means federal laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of felonies and crimes of domestic violence are unconstitutional as long as the weapons are needed for self-defense.
So far, federal judges uniformly have agreed these restrictions are unchanged by the Supreme Court's landmark interpretation of the Second Amendment.