United States v. Chapman, No. 10-5071

Decided: Jan. 4, 2012

Ronald Chapman entered a conditional guilty plea to a charge of being in possession of a firearm in violation of a domestic violence protection order (DVPO). After being sentenced to time served and supervised release, Chapman appealed, seeking to dismiss the indictment as an as-applied violation of his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the conviction. Analyzing the issue under recent Circuit precedent, United States v. Chester, 628 F.3d 673 (4th Cir. 2010); United States v. Staten, 2011 WL 6016976 (4th Cir. Dec. 5, 2011), and a recent Tenth Circuit decision, the court held that the challenge would be evaluated under intermediate scrutiny. Moreover, using the Chester approach, the court did not decide whether the challenged law imposed on a burden on Chapman’s constitutional rights because even if that step had been satisfied, the second question would nevertheless be resolved in favor of the government. There is a substantial governmental interest in reducing domestic gun violence. Furthermore, the restriction was a “reasonable fit” to effect the government’s purpose, especially when the violator was subject to a court order issued after a proper hearing. Finally, the court emphasized that though the net cast by the statute was potentially over-inclusive, the law need only be a reasonable fit—not a perfect one.

Full Opinion

-C. Alexander Cable

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