Casper Man Pleads Guilty to Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm
A Casper man pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to minutes from the hearing in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne on Thursday.
His trial was scheduled for Jan. 23, but he decided to plead guilty.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson set his sentencing date for April 24.
Schutz was arrested on Oct. 19 by Casper Police and agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives after an investigation found he owned several firearms.
The agencies executed the search warrant at his residence on South Washington Street where they found an Akkar Model 812 12-gauge shotgun and several other firearms, according to an ATFE agent affidavit.
After his initial appearance and during a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Shickich decided to release Schutz based on Federal Public Defender Tracy Hucke's argument that he would comply with release conditions, and that he could live with his son as a third-party custodian.
Shickich reluctantly agreed.
"I'm giving you enough rope to hang yourself," Shickich said. "If you violate the release plan, any deal is off the table."
On Nov. 17, the federal grand jury indicted him on the firearms count, and he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Nov. 29.
However, Schutz violated the terms of his release because he was arrested Dec. 14 and charges of domestic battery and strangulation.
Shickich revoked his pre-trial release a week later.
Meanwhile, he filed a motion to dismiss his case based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision about firearms.
According to the 2021 case New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n Inc. v. Bruen, Hucke wrote that his indictment is is unconstitutional because the Second Amendment does not forbid denying felons, especially nonviolent felons, the right to bear arms.
Schutz was convicted of the nonviolent crime of forgery in 2002.
Johnson, agreeing with the prosecution's objection to Schutz's motion, wrote that numerous defendants charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm have unsuccessfully used the Bruen argument according to decisions in 24 federal courts.
Schutz made general arguments that went beyond what Bruen intended, Johnson wrote. "Bruen altered the required test to assess firearm regulation, but no more."
Bruen has two key parts, and Schutz is right about the first one.
The Second Amendment does cover Schutz's conduct because he is part of 'the people' and thus, his conduct in possessing a firearm would seem presumptively protected," Johnson wrote.
However, the current prohibition on felons possessing firearms remains constitutional, he wrote.
The 2008 U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 Heller decision says the Second Amendment guarantees and individual's right to possess firearms independent of service in a state militia, adding, "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons."
The Supreme Court -- specifically with writings by Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts -- subsequently upheld that part of Heller, Johnson wrote.
Felons, he wrote, have abused the trust of the people, he wrote.
"Defendant's prior felony conviction supports the contention that he abused the rights of the people and failed to be a law-abiding, responsible, or virtuous citizen," Johnson wrote.