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Second Amendment Immigration Exceptionalism

Posted by on Thursday, February 8, 2024 in En Banc, Essays.

Pratheepan Gulasekaram | 77 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 51 (2024)

Recently, a federal district court in United States v. Vazquez- Ramirez upheld the federal criminal prohibition on firearm possession by unlawfully present noncitizens codified in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5). Vazquez-Ramirez is just the latest in a string of post-New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen rulings from lower federal courts upholding that particular provision against Second Amendment challenges. In Bruen, the Court struck down a state discretionary permitting scheme for issuing concealed firearms carrying permits, and prescribed a novel “text, history, and tradition” methodology for evaluating gun regulations. Even in the decade prior to Bruen, federal circuit courts uniformly rejected constitutional challenges to § 922(g)(5) using “tiers of scrutiny” analysis. In fact, only one court—the Western District of Texas in United States v. Sing-Ledezma—thus far has struck down the federal “alien-in-possession” ban as violative of the Second Amendment. In short, the result Judge Rosanna Peterson reaches in Vazquez-Ramirez is neither surprising nor anomalous.

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Pratheepan Gulasekaram