Soto v. Bushmaster

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Supreme Court of Connecticut

Today, May 30, 2017, we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court in support of gun manufacturers Bushmaster and Remington, who had been sued by the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

The plaintiffs in the case had brought a “negligent entrustment” claim, arguing that the AR-15 style rifle should never have been sold because it was foreseeable that it would be used in the crime.  However, as we pointed out, neither the manufacturer, distributor, nor dealer did anything wrong with respect to this particular sale — the essence of a legal negligent entrustment claim.  Rather, the Plaintiffs instead were making the policy argument that generally no one should ever be permitted to sell any AR-15.  In other words, they were asking judges to legislate to ban AR-15 style rifles. Read More

Hamilton v. Pallozzi

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today, we filed our second amicus brief in this case, in support of a petition for rehearing en banc in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  We urged the Fourth Circuit to rehear the case, because the panel decision ignored the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause.  The issue involved a Maryland resident’s right to purchase and possess firearms despite the judicial removal of disability to own firearms by a Virginia court after a Virginia conviction. Read More

Peruta v. California

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petition for certiorari filed in the Peruta challenge to California concealed carry laws.  Our brief, however, urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to review a broader issue than that sought by the petitioners, and based on a more robust understanding of the protections afforded by Second Amendment than that urged by petitioners. Read More

GOA/GOF Comments to ATF on Proposed Changes to Form 7

Michael Harless Firearms Law

Today, our firm filed comments with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”) in response to the ATF’s proposal to combine the federal application to be a firearms dealer (“Form 7”) with the application to be a Collector of Curios and Relics.  As our comments pointed out, ATF’s proposed new combined form is an attempt to combine apples and oranges.  Dealers (businesses) are nothing like collectors (private persons).  The proposed form is complicated and unclear as to which sections apply to which license.  Moreover, the proposed form eliminates current language which is helpful to a person knowing whether or not he needs to apply for a license.  Our comments were filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation. Read More

GOA/GOF Comments to ATF on Proposed Changes to Form 4473

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation opposing the proposed changes to the Form 4473, a form ATF claims continues to be necessary, though it is not required by any federal law.

Our comments explain how the proposed additions to the Form 4473 are unnecessarily confusing and often unauthorized.  The form is already complex, presenting a legal hurdle for law-abiding Americans wishing to exercise their Second Amendment right.  If ATF does not eliminate the Form 4473, it should, at a minimum, seek to simplify rather than further complicate the form. Read More

GOA/GOF Comments to ATF on Secure Gun Storage

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation opposing proposed regulations issued by ATF to require not only firearms dealers, but also manufacturers and importers, to certify that secure gun storage or safety devices are maintained anywhere firearms are sold.

Our comments explain how ATF’s proposed regulations would purportedly “implement” provisions of federal law; however, the regulations would actually rewrite federal law to further the goals of ATF. Read More

Grace v. District of Columbia

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Today, we filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of a challenge to the D.C. Concealed Carry statute which was brought by Matthew Grace and others.  Our brief argues that the District of Columbia Council based its argument on the notion of hidden exceptions to the Bill of Rights, and a flawed understanding of the difference between the restricted nature of firearms rights in England versus the unrestricted nature of firearms rights in the Colonies.  Our brief also argues that it is illegitimate for the Court to engage in judicial balancing tests of any type, as they were barred by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Lastly, we argued that the government does not have the authority to make predictive judgments as to who may violate the law and restrict liberties to prevent crimes that it fears may someday occur. Read More

Hamilton v. Pallozzi

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supporting the right of a Maryland resident to purchase and possess firearms despite a prior conviction. Hamilton had been convicted of a non-violent felony in Virginia and served his sentence. Later, Virginia restored his civil rights, and then a Virginia Court specifically restored his firearms rights.

Now living in Maryland, Hamilton has been told that Maryland will not recognize the restoration of his firearms rights by a Virginia Court.  Our brief explains that under the U.S. Constitution’s “Full Faith & Credit Clause,” Maryland may not refuse to give recognition to the Virginia court’s restoration of rights, and argument that had not been made by Hamilton. Read More

Justice Thomas Asks First Questions in 10 years — Drawn from our Amicus brief!!!

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

There must be something special about LEAP DAY.

Today, for the first time in a decade, Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question during the oral argument of Voisine v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court.   And, his question was drawn from an amicus brief we filed in that case!!! And ours was the only amicus brief filed in support of Voisine.

The Voisine case involves the infamous Lautenberg Amendment — under which a person who commits a certain type of misdemeanor may suffer a lifetime ban on gun ownership.  Our brief challenged the power of Congress to abolish a person’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms for the commission of a misdemeanor. Read More

Voisine v. United States

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we made our 10th filing in 10 years opposing various applications of what is known as the so-called “Lautenberg Amendment,” which purports to impose a lifetime ban on firearms ownership on those who commit certain misdemeanors. The anti-gun lobby seeks to strip gun ownership from as many persons as possible, even if the misdemeanor was a minor matter, involving neither firearms nor violence. Read More

Hollis v. Lynch — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

Today, our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the federal machine gun ban, ironically passed as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act.

Under the Gun Control Act (“GCA”), “persons” are generally prohibited from possessing machineguns. A “person” is defined to include entities such a corporation and partnership – but the definition does not include a trust. Moreover, in 2014, ATF took the position that “unincorporated trusts are not ‘persons’ under the GCA.” Based on that understanding that trusts are not persons, the Jay Aubrey Isaac Hollis Revocable Living Trust applied to the ATF for approval to manufacture and register an M-16 machinegun. When ATF eventually revoked the application, the Trust sued, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed the case. Read More

United States v. Robert G. Arwady and Richard P. Medrano
Verdict in — Both defendants Not Guilty on all counts

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Litigation, U. S. District Court, Southern District of Texas

Rob Olson has called in to report that after two hours of deliberation, the jury has come back with a Not Guilty verdict on all counts.

Bob Arwardy and Richard Medrano were accused of participating in a “straw purchase” of firearms on February 27, 2014 and other firearms offenses in an eight count indictment.   After significant motions practice, including work by both Rob Olson and Herb Titus of our firm, the government dropped six of the eight counts, pressing the other two counts against both defendants.  Obviously, the jury was not persuaded.  This case required four trips to Houston, Texas by Rob Olson, for motions practice, trial preparation, pretrial, and trial. Read More

Gun Owners of America — Comments Filed With State Department Opposing New ITAR Regulations

Michael Harless Firearms Law

Today, our firm filed comments with the U.S. Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy, on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, regarding proposed revisions to the State Department’s International Traffic In Arms Regulations (“ITAR”).  Pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, the State Department regulates the export of “defense articles and services.”  Typically, these regulations apply to businesses which manufacture weapons of war such as tanks and bombs, and there generally was no need for ordinary Americans to worry about this incredibly complex and convoluted area of the law. Read More

Silvester v. Harris — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in support of a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. One of the most draconian states when it comes to Second Amendment rights, California forces its residents to wait 10 days after a purchase before a lawful buyer may acquire a lawful firearm.

First, our brief dispelled the notion that California’s waiting period is “presumptively lawful” under Heller as a “condition on commercial sales of arms.” Second, our brief showed that waiting periods for firearm purchases do not fall within any of Heller’s “presumptively lawful” categories of regulations. Finally, our brief argued that, while the district court below correctly determined that the waiting period is unconstitutional, it did so for the wrong reasons. The district court based its decision not on the text and context of the Second Amendment, but on the same type of judicially-devised interest balancing test that the Supreme Court rejected in Heller. Read More

Peruta v. San Diego, Richards v. County of Yolo — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today our firm filed a brief supporting the right to “bear” arms in California. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit previously handed down an opinion striking down San Diego County’s policy under which “self-defense” was not considered to be a “good cause” allowing the issuance of a concealed carry permit. Now, the Ninth Circuit decided to re-hear the case en banc. The Peruta case was consolidated with another case, Richards v. County of Yolo, which challenged Yolo County’s “good cause” policy. Our brief addressed issues in both cases. Read More

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper — Brief filed

Michael Harless Colorado Court of Appeals, Firearms Law, Litigation

On March12, 2015, our firm joined with co-counsel with Barry K. Arrington, Esquire of Centennial, Colorado, and filed in the Colorado Court of Appeals a brief challenging the constitutionality of the recent 2013 Colorado laws banning so-called “large capacity” magazines and requiring criminal background checks for all private transfers of firearms.

In 2013, representing the National Association for Gun Rights and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, our firm challenged Colorado’s recent gun control laws in a Denver court. This suit was based exclusively on violations of the Colorado State Constitution. Interestingly, the Colorado Constitution is stronger even than the U.S. Constitution in defending gun rights. In two recent cases, Colorado courts had upheld gun rights that have been denied in the federal courts. Nevertheless, the district court dismissed the case without a hearing, not allowing us to present evidence of the flaws in the statue, nor the state’s rich history of promoting and protecting gun rights. We took an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Read More

Jackson v. City & County of San Francisco — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge to San Francisco’s gun storage and ammunition ordinances.

This decision comes as the latest in a long string of decisions wherein the lower federal courts simply have refused to implement the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller. As our amicus brief explains, the lower federal courts are in a state of open rebellion in the lower courts against Heller. Our amicus brief documents the lawless behavior of the lower federal courts, and urges the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari. Read More

Henderson v. United States — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Tony Henderson was convicted in federal court of a felony drug crime. Before conviction, he had voluntarily turned over his firearms to the FBI. After conviction, knowing that, as a felon, he could no longer legally possess firearms under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(1), Henderson sold his firearms to a third party. Henderson then asked the FBI to transfer his firearms to that eligible third party buyer. The FBI refused, arguing that to do so would put Henderson into temporary “constructive possession” of the firearms. Read More

Kolbe v. O’Malley — Amicus brief

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Second Amendment protected every citizen’s right to “keep and bear arms” in its 2008 Heller decision, lower federal courts have sought to evade the application of that rule. That pattern is now continuing in Maryland where a district judge has upheld the Maryland 2013 Firearms Safety Act (“Act”) which bans (i) so-called “assault weapons” and (ii) so-called “large-capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Read More

Heller v. District of Columbia — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, supporting another challenge by the legendary Dick Heller to the District of Columbia’s onerous firearm registration and licensing requirements. This is our firm’s third amicus brief supporting Heller’s challenges to these DC gun regulations. In 2008, the Supreme Court adopted the type of analysis recommended by our first amicus brief. Read More