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Ex Post Facto Law Being Enforced to Prevent Another American Citizen from Keeping and Bearing Arms

KABA NOTE:  We are interested in locating more Americans whose rights are being denied under ex post facto/bill of attainder enforcement of Lautenberg, as described below. We're looking for people who are serious about doing something to fix this problem and are willing to tell their story publicly and provide documentation along the lines of what you see above. If this is happening to you, too, please contact us with full, thorough details and corroborating evidence and send it to Director@KeepAndBearArms.com with a subject line, in all caps, of EX POST FACTO VICTIM. Thanks.


Ex Post Facto Law Being Enforced to Prevent Another American Citizen from Keeping and Bearing Arms

Will you join me in doing something about this?

by Terry James Landry, Jr.
SailerPirate5@aol.com

February 18, 2004

KeepAndBearArms.com -- In 1987, I pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault. On September 30, 1996, the Lautenberg Amendment to the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law. It had been introduced as Senate Bill 1632  by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and House Bill 3455 by Rep. Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ). Senators Feinstein and Kennedy were among the co-sponsors in the Senate. Representatives Durbin and Pelosi were among the House co-sponsors.

Lautenberg amended the Gun Control Act of 1968. The relevant text and intent of that law -- referred to in the personal message below about the illegal denial of my rights -- is found in 18USC922, as follows:

TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I--CRIMES
CHAPTER 44--FIREARMS

Sec. 922. Unlawful acts

"(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person--" ...

"(9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."

(g) It shall be unlawful for any person--

(9) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,

to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

[source]

Prior to that law being enacted, there were no firearms prohibitions for mere misdemeanor convictions.

Recently, I attempted to purchase a firearm and was denied. I had no earthly idea why. Subsequent investigations led me to the FBI's headquarters, where I discovered that I am barred from owning firearms because of that misdemeanor assault conviction.

It was a complete shock to my system to be denied for such a reason. After all, the law was signed in 1996 -- nine years after my conviction.

The events surrounding my conviction are not strictly relevant to the message I am here to convey -- that retroactive federal laws are passed and enforced in America to deny good people the right to keep and bear arms. Nevertheless, I'm going to summarize those events because you may wonder -- and because I have nothing to hide. I want you to understand what's happening to me and other people like me. I'm looking for a way to right this injustice and hoping that someone will read this message and join me in doing something about it.

First, the details, followed by links to documentation validating what you're about to read.

 

ABOUT ME

I was born in 1967. I am a happily married man, married to the same good woman for 13 years. I served in the U.S. Army and received a general discharge under honorable conditions. I work hard as a professional long-haul truck driver. My haz-mat endorsement, which allows me to haul any hazardous material including a truckload of explosives, has been on my truck driver's license for over a decade, and I have a perfect safety record. I pay all my taxes on time.

Other than this one incident, I have no charges or convictions on my record -- civil or criminal -- and I have not broken any laws that I know of. I've always tried to be a good American citizen. I'm a very religious man who loves God very much. I love my country and am proud to be an American. I'm a registered Republican, but I'm thinking of switching to the Libertarian party -- because a Republican-controlled Congress and President haven't even tried to undo but a tiny fraction of the bad things Bill Clinton did even though they've got a lot to choose from. I vote.

I've been a hunter all my life, and I enjoy shooting. I like having the ability to protect myself and my wife if such an unfortunate need should arise. And, until recently, I always owned firearms. When I was told by the BATF that I could be imprisoned for ten years and fined $10,000 just for owning one single cartridge of ammunition, I disposed of my firearms immediately and began my quest to correct this obvious unconstitutional error in federal law.

 

ABOUT THE CHARGE AND CONVICTION

I'll make this short (though I'm willing to share the additional sordid details with anyone who can help and really wants to know):

I was married previously to a woman who ended up literally trading sex for drugs and money while I was away in the service at basic training and later out on exercises. I had gotten married an hour before I graduated high school and two weeks before I left for basic training. Obviously, I really just didn't know her very well.

When I realized it was time to get out of that mess and tried to claim the possessions that were mine, she attacked me with a broken beer bottle and cut me to the bone. (At the end of this report you can see pictures, taken just the other day, of the scar on my wrist.) When she came at me with the bottle to cut me again, I slapped her face to make her stop. I slapped her ONE TIME -- with my open hand -- and didn't leave a single mark on her. The cut hurt, and I believed she was intent on causing me even more serious bodily harm. Had I wanted to hurt her, I could have done so. But I didn't want to hurt her. I just didn't want to be cut again.

She ran out of the house and left. A little while later a state police officer showed up and arrested me. I was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. The officer would not let me file charges against her even though my wrist was cut to the bone and bleeding and there was not a single mark on her anywhere.

I sat in jail for six days waiting for the circuit judge to show up. When he did, I was told (by him) at the hearing: "Mr. Landry, if you plead guilty I'll let you go, time served. If you plead innocent I'll have to hold you over for trial."

I didn't have a lawyer or a job -- I was fresh out of the service and in the middle of watching my life fall apart, so I pled Guilty just so I could get out of Maine and away from her. But I understood that I was only pleading guilty to one count, and now they have it on the records as two. How they got two counts out of one defensive, open-handed slap from a bleeding man I do not know. I only recently found out that there were two counts -- a discovery made once I started investigating why I could not buy a firearm.

The judge just said "don't let me catch you in my court again!" He never said anything about how pleading guilty would mean I could never own a firearm again, because at that time, a mere misdemeanor was not justification for denying an American citizen a basic fundamental right for the rest of his life.

 

MOVING ON, STARTING ANEW

I left Maine thinking it was over and done with, dusted myself off, and got on with my life. I chalked up my poor choice of a partner to youthful inexperience, reconciled my mistakes with myself and God and moved forward.

I eventually married again, in 1991, and am still happily married to the same woman. As a wedding present, she gave me a 20 gauge shotgun. I recently had to dispose of it due to this situation. I thought the horrible end to a short, bad "marriage" 17 years ago was behind me. I was wrong.

 

HOW I FOUND OUT I AM BARRED FROM OWNING A FIREARM

I have been driving trucks all over this country ever since I got out of the service. I have had a good work history and personal life ever since I got away from my first wife.

I live in southern Louisiana. We had a serial killer stalking and murdering women in the area a while back. You may have heard about it. Being an over-the-road truck driver, my work often calls me away for a month or two at a time. Naturally, I want my wife to be safe while I'm gone -- and able to protect herself. She is very precious to me. If that lunatic murderer were to have harmed her while I was away working, I could never have forgiven myself.

Because of my career, she spends most of the time at home alone. Naturally, we both want her to be safe, secure and able to protect herself.

When I went to buy a handgun for her so she could protect herself while I'm away, I was denied. The dealer said the FBI background check turned me down. He was unable to tell me why. I figured it was some kind of silly mistake, and I set about to fix it through the FBI.

It took six months of searching and calling and writing -- going through the appeals process -- to find out why I was denied the right to buy a firearm. I was finally informed that according to the Lautenberg Amendment, I could get 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for even having a single bullet in my possession.

 

EX POST FACTO LAWS AND THE CONSTITUTION

Now, I'm not a lawyer. I know there are nuances to many laws that require some study to fully comprehend. But I can read plain English. For the life of me, I cannot understand how a law that went into effect in 1996 can be enacted retroactively to affect a 1987 misdemeanor. Even without a law degree, my reading of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution reveals a clear, direct and unequivocal barrier on Congress passing a new law against an American citizen that would further penalize a criminal act that occurred before the law was passed. That section of our country's Constitution says very simply:

"No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

Article I, Section 10 also bars States from passing ex post facto laws:

"No State shall ... pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law..."

Law dictionaries are clear on the meaning of "ex post facto" and have been clear on it for a very long time. Even dictionary.com makes it clear: "Formulated, enacted, or operating retroactively. Used especially of a law."

The 1996 Lautenberg Amendment extended the list of people prohibited from owning firearms to those "convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence." But my punishment had already long before been specified, agreed to, and served, and it did not include giving up my Second Amendment rights. If it had, I would never have pled guilty.

I can find no evidence that the Constitution's bar against ex post facto laws was even considered during House or Senate testimony on the Lautenberg Amendment. Mr. Lautenberg probably doesn't care that ex post facto laws are banned by the U.S. Constitution -- but surely some members of Congress who voted for that bill did not intend for it to be applied retroactively. But even if they all wanted it applied retroactively, such legislation is forbidden by the Supreme Law of the Land.

The ban on bills of attainder is also being violated here. A bill of attainder is "a legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial." Taking my right to keep and bear arms is certainly a punishment, and I never got a trial when the new punishment was enforced.

 

ANALOGY TO CONSIDER

If Congress passed a law today making speeding a felony and declared that people convicted of it from this day forward could not own firearms for the rest of their lives, it would not violate the ex post facto prohibition. (Such a law would be unwise, but we're talking about Congress.) However, if they made it retroactive to anyone ever convicted of speeding even prior to the law's enactment, it would be an ex post facto law, expressly prohibited by Article I, Section 9 (Federal) and Section 10 (State), and thus unconstitutional on its face.

 

DOUBLE JEOPARDY VIOLATION, TOO?

And what about the 5th Amendment prohibition on double jeopardy? It says, in plain English:

"...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..."

In 1987, I was released without even having to pay a fine -- time served. I pled guilty to get out of jail at a time when doing so did not affect my right to own firearms even for a day, let alone for life.

Nine years later, Congress passed a law that effectively intended to punish me again -- stripping my gun rights away for the rest of my life! -- for a misdemeanor.

How can the state or federal government justify giving me additional punishment 9 years after I served the six days the judge imposed as full and final punishment? Congress and the courts may say it was not intended as additional punishment -- but its effect is certainly punitive.

 

HOW IS THIS AFFECTING ME?

A year ago I thought I was a good American -- hard working and honest. I hunted regularly, but always made sure to research and obey all game laws applicable. I was also about to apply to the local Sheriff's Office for a position as a reserve deputy, like my uncle before me. If I can be of service to my local community, count me in. I care about law and order, and I deeply respect the men who bravely deal on a regular basis with real criminals.

But now I read in the paper that the background check system kept firearms out of the hands of X number of criminals last year, and I realize that I'm one of them. I'M A CRIMINAL!!!

I can't apply to the Sheriff's Office if I can't carry a firearm. I can't hunt too well with a slingshot. I'm required by the coast guard to carry a flare gun in my sailboat when I go off shore, but I could get 10 years in prison if I have to use it.

I'm banned from having a firearm for self-defense even in my own home!

It's distressing to know that I've been rendered less of an American than everybody else. Most Americans have the rights I should have. And I haven't done anything to deserve losing them. I'm "guilty" of defending myself against serious bodily injury, using the least amount of force I could and without causing my attacker any significant injury in the process.

If I was a foreigner, even from an terror-sponsoring country, as long as I was here on a legal visa and stayed 90 days without getting arrested, I could buy all the firearms I wanted. I guess they deserve more rights than I do, too.

Also, there's a concern in relation to this new background check that we truck drivers are going to have to undergo to keep our haz-mat endorsements on our licenses. We will have to pay for these background checks, raising the cost of my license from $90.00 to $190.00. That's just another cost of doing business. Yet I can't help but wonder if they will use my misdemeanor conviction against me in relation to my haz-mat status. If they do, I'll lose my job.

I may be able to get another job not requiring a haz-mat, but at half the pay -- too big a loss to take. Even if they don't take my haz-mat at this time, what about tomorrow? If the government passes ex post facto laws and gets away with it -- even where the most fundamental of rights is stripped away permanently -- what's to stop them from passing yet another unconstitutional retroactive law that requires my employer to fire me because of a 17-year-old misdemeanor?

I'm supposedly too dangerous to be trusted with a gun, but they'll trust me with 45,000 pounds of explosives or chemicals on the highways. Does that make sense?

Finally, if the ban extends to my house, it also extends to my wife, who is guilty of nothing. She is essentially being told that if she wants the right to bear arms -- and the legal ability to protect herself -- that she must never be with her husband. And that's a punishment enforced against her, over a misdemeanor guilty plea long before I met her that did not include such harsh terms.

 

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

At this stage, I have few options available. Maine has no mechanism for expunging convictions or sealing records, so the only recourse in that direction is a governor's pardon. They just sent me a pardon application, but the chances of getting one even considered are probably slim to none. It would be politically problematic for a governor to issue a pardon over domestic violence due. Left wing women's groups and the Lefty media would crucify the governor for doing this, regardless of what the Constitution says.

The other options I've been considering are:

A) Convince a senator to introduce a bill to retract or clarify the ex post facto aspects of federal law that are blatantly unconstitutional. IF we as a society are committed to banning the Second Amendment for life over a misdemeanor, then we've got to clarify that this prohibition cannot apply to misdemeanor convictions that happened prior to September 30, 1996 -- when Lautenberg was signed into law -- unless we amend the U.S. Constitution to allow ex post facto laws.

B) Convince a lawyer to take this case through the judicial branch to the Supreme Court and hope they do the right thing by taking the case and ruling in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.

C) Leave the country and find a place where I can legally defend myself and my wife.

D) Accept that my rights are being denied via an unconstitutional ex post facto law, and accept being an easy target for criminals until the day I die.

That last one is not an option. Can anybody tell me what I can do here? Are there any attorneys listening? Is anyone else going through this nightmare? I can't be the only victim of this anti-Constitution insanity.

Please contact me if you are willing to team up and work toward a solution. This is nuts. I seem to have a good test case here. I've been working on this since I was denied a firearm in May, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to fix this mess as long as it is ethical, moral and above-board. I have plenty of character witnesses who will take the stand on my behalf -- male and female, including a female law enforcement officer. But I need some partnership, teamwork, guidance and experience to know what the best course of action might be. I don't want to fix this just for me; I want to end the nightmare for others I know must be out there, too.

Documentation validating what I've shared with you is found below. Thank you, kindly, for taking the time to consider this situation. The ban on ex post facto laws was put into the Constitution because King George was doing the same thing to colonialists that's been done to me -- and I doubt they enjoyed it any more than I do.

Terry James Landry, Jr.
American

DOCUMENTATION CORROBORATING WHAT I'VE REPORTED

This is FBI's initial two page response after I inquired about why I was denied the ability to buy a firearm so my wife could protect herself. Note on Page 2 that both charges have "MISD" after them -- for misdemeanor. Also note on Page 2 that the arrest took place on July 16, 1987 and the case was disposed of seven days later:

Page 1   Page 2

This is FBI's NICS "Firearm Denial Appeal Acknowledgement" -- a three-page letter responding to my inquiry as to why I was unable to buy a firearm. This letter is dated June 12, 2003:

Page 1   Page 2   Page 3

This is FBI's NICS "Firearm Denial Appeal Review" -- another three-page letter expounding even further upon why I am unable to purchase a firearm and explaining that that's just the way it is. This letter is dated October 16, 2003:

Page 1   Page 2   Page 3

Pictures of the scar on my wrist -- an injury described above, delivered by the willful wielding of a broken beer bottle, for which I delivered one open-handed slap to stop the attack:

Picture 1  Picture 2

 

Printer Version

 QUOTES TO REMEMBER
When you sit down to negotiate on what you already have, you lose. —REP. MARIE PARENTE

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