MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of a man who was found guilty of arming himself with a gun while intoxicated, rejecting his arguments that his core Second Amendment rights outweighed a state law against brandishing firearms while drunk.
In a 6-1 ruling, the court upheld a state appeals court decision against Mitchell Christen. He had challenged his 2018 conviction by a Dane County jury that he was intoxicated and not acting in self-defense when he armed himself with a handgun and shotgun and threatened his roommates. Christen was heard on a 911 call saying anyone who opened his door would get a “face full of lead.”
Christen was sentenced to four months in jail, though the sentence was put on hold pending his appeal.
Christen argued that he has a core Second Amendment right to bear his firearms, whether intoxicated or not, and that the state law prohibiting an intoxicated person from brandishing a gun was unconstitutional as it applied to him. He did not challenge the constitutionality of the underlying law beyond his particular case.
The state Supreme Court determined that in general, it is not illegal to possess a firearm or to be intoxicated in one's home and that people also have a strong right to self-defense in the home.
“However, Christen’s assertion that the Second Amendment allows him to possess a firearm in his own home even though he is at the point of intoxication, regardless of whether he is acting in self-defense, misses the mark,” Chief Justice Annette Ziegler wrote for the majority.
In upholding his conviction, the court noted that the jury determined that Christen was drunk, disorderly and not acting in self-defense when he brandished his guns, in clear violation of state law.
Justice Rebecca Bradley, one of the court's four conservatives, dissented, saying Christen has a Second Amendment right to carry a firearm in his own home in case of confrontation, regardless of whether he is intoxicated or not. Bradley said the ruling “erodes a fundamental freedom."