The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man arrested for handling an unloaded weapon at home while drunk.
Fred Weber of Felicity, Ohio, was arrested in 2018 after his wife called the police believing that he posed a real threat. Weber was convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor charge after admitting to handling a firearm while intoxicated.
His attorney Gary Rosenhoffer argued that the conviction was unconstitutional because under the current law there’s no evidence that he intended to use the firearm.
Prosecutors argued that the scare caused by the defendant was convincing enough, forcing his wife to involve the police.
The court decided that the state’s firearm laws that prohibit intoxicated people from handling firearms also regulated inherently dangerous behavior as displayed by the defendant. Thus Weber's conviction did not violate his Second Amendment rights.
The court established that Weber had a “high level of intoxication … smelled of alcohol, and spoke with slurred speech.” Additionally, he “had bloodshot and glassy eyes, was swaying from side to side, and could not even follow the directions given to him for a field sobriety test.”
The majority opinion concluded that Weber’s decision to drink excessively “had a detrimental impact on his ability to engage in self-defense” thus bringing him under the scrutiny of the 1974 law that regulates firearm handling by intoxicated individuals.
O’Connor however clarified that the law did not preclude alcohol users from owning firearms or having loaded guns at home. She added that intoxicated people could still use firearms for self-defense.
She however pointed out that the law “is a targeted restriction that prohibits a narrow range of conduct (carrying or using a gun) for a very limited period of time (while someone is in a state of intoxication) due to the inherently dangerous nature of carrying or using a gun while in that state.”
The defense attorney said his team was considering the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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