Appeals Court OKs Disarming Defendants Before They’re Convicted

Appeals Court OKs Disarming Defendants Before They’re Convicted

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that two criminal defendants were rightly prohibited from possessing firearms while awaiting trial in California.

Jesus Perez-Garcia was arrested at the border after authorities found 11 grams of methamphetamine and half a kilogram of fentanyl in a vehicle he was a passenger in, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The other defendant, John Thomas Fencl, was hit with charges after more than 100 guns were found by law enforcement in his home, including some that were illegal.

The 9th Circuit originally ruled against the men in January 2023 but only issued its full decision on Monday. In the meantime, Fencl was convicted and Perez-Garcia had his bond revoked for failing to show up to court hearings.

Both men are represented by attorney Katie Hurrelbrink, who expressed her intention to “continue litigating this,” saying she would take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Perez-Garcia and Fencl argued their disarming had no historical record to back it up. Detained defendants have been disarmed, but neither saw evidence in past cases supporting the disarming of defendants who have been released from custody.

Judge Gabriel P. Sanchez felt differently, stating the decision of the court was “consistent with our nation’s long history of temporarily disarming criminal defendants facing serious charges and those deemed dangerous or unwilling to follow the law.”

Note that each party invoked history, as SCOTUS found in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. Bruen (2022) that gun laws must be rooted in the historical record or tradition.

So who’s in the right?

My gut tells me I don’t want to see anyone, short of a conviction, deprived of his Second Amendment rights. But can we — and should we — maintain our principles when public safety might have us temporarily deviate from them?

For instance, nobody wants those involved in the hyper-violent drug trade trotting around with guns. There is a reason we refer to those people as deviants — they deviate from the norm of our society and its laws.

But who was our society actually built for? Who is the “norm”?

John Adams said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Maybe instead of asking who’s correct in this case, we should be asking if the law is even designed to handle disputes such as this. We should be asking how our culture shifted away from Adams’ view.

The true solution is another cultural shift — that is, a shift away from the incentives and factors that encourage deviant behavior in the first place.

While this is not the quick solution, our culture determines our values, which in turn help determine our actions.

Sure, the law can determine people’s actions by acting as a deterrent, but if that worked 100 percent of the time, laws would never be broken.

No, the only way forward is a return to the kind of culture that our system was designed for.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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