Casper Man Sentenced for Federal Firearm Violation
A Casper man was sentenced to nearly five years behind bars for being a felon in possession in of a firearm, according to the minutes of the sentencing hearing in federal court in Cheyenne on Thursday.
Christopher Laroy Gaiter heard the 57-month sentence, to be followed by three years of supervised probation after his release from custody, from U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson during the nearly one-and-a-half hour hearing.
There was an enhancement for the possession charge because it was in connection with a felony drug offense, according to the minutes. However, court documents do not indicate what that drug offense was.
Johnson also ordered Gaiter to pay a $100 special assessment, and after his release to undergo a mental health evaluation, undergo cognitive-behavioral treatment, and participate in a vocational training or educational program.
The federal grand jury handed up the one-count indictment on Sept. 21, saying Gaiter, having been previously convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment, knowingly possessed a Glock Model 43 9mm-caliber pistol on April 28, 2022.
Punishment for that crime is up to 10 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Gaiter was arrested in Casper on Sept. 27, has been held in detention because the crime involved a firearm, and he pleaded guilty on Feb. 13.
Meanwhile, Gaiter unsuccessfully ask the court to dismiss the case based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, according to his defense attorney Michael Reese of Cheyenne.
According to a federal court document, a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper pulled over Gaiter for speeding on Interstate 25 near Douglas on April 28, 2022.
As Gaiter was being taken to the trooper's vehicle, he allegedly asked the trooper to get his cellphone in his vehicle. The trooper noticed a bullet on the driver's seat, and Gaiter said he and his girlfriend recently bought a gun, and allegedly "'said that he put the firearm in the glove box as he was a felon.'" A footnote in that document said Gaiter was convicted in Arapahoe County (Colorado) district court for felony menacing and sentenced to 90 days imprisonment in 2015.
Gaiter, through Reese, argued his indictment is is unconstitutional because the Second Amendment does not forbid denying felons the right to bear arms.
Johnson disagreed, because the United States has a history of that "firearm regulation against felons is lawful," according to U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
In his order denying Gaiter's motion to discussion, Johnson wrote on Dec. 12 the other federal district courts have rejected motions similar to Gaiter's.
Gaiter tried to argue that he was a nonviolent offender, but Johnson noted that his felony menacing conviction stemmed from an incident in which was charged with assault, vehicle theft, kidnapping and robbery.
In other words, Bruen didn't apply to Gaiter, Johnson wrote.
Another Casper man, Patrick Schutz, convicted and sentenced for being a felon in possession of a firearm, tried to use the same argument after Gaiter did.
Johnson responded 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 at that time.
Felons, he wrote, have abused the trust of the people, he wrote.
"Defendant's (Schutz'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.