A federal law barring people under indictment for a felony from purchasing guns is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas ruled in an early test of a the new decision by the Supreme Court expanding firearm access. U.S. District Judge David Counts found that the law’s prohibitions clashed with the high court’s June decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which a 6-3 majority ruled that law-abiding people have a right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense, the Washington Post reports. The opinion by Counts, a President Trump appointee, invoked the language of originalism, the conservative legal theory that judges should interpret the Constitution based on how it was understood when it was adopted.
The judge said he found little historical evidence that the law barring those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm “aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition.” The Justice Department will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The case arose from the indictment of Jose Gomez Quiroz of West Texas, who bought a .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun in 2021 while facing state charges of burglary and jumping bail. Quiroz denied at the time of sale and background check that he was under indictment. After waiting a week, he picked up the weapon from a retailer in Alpine, Tx. Soon after, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System alerted authorities that the purchase was illegal.