United States v. Kettler

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

Today, we filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit as co-counsel for the defendant, Jeremy Kettler. Mr. Kettler was convicted in federal district court of possessing a firearm noise suppressor that was not registered to him pursuant to the National Firearms Act (“NFA”).

In purchasing his suppressor, Mr. Kettler had relied on the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act which states that a firearm or firearm accessory (such as a suppressor) that is manufactured, owned, and kept entirely within the borders of Kansas is not subject to any federal law. When Mr. Kettler revealed that he purchased such a suppressor, however, agents from the Obama Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) swooped in to make an example of Mr. Kettler, and his co-defendant Mr. Cox. Read More

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

Comments: Gun Owners of America & Gun Owners Foundation File Comments Opposing Social Security Administration Efforts to Disarm the Disabled

Michael Harless Administrative Law

Today our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation opposing proposed regulations issued by the Obama Social Security Administration to add more names to the NICS system which would prevent many persons with disabilities from buying firearms.

Our comments explain how the Social Security Administration proposal goes well beyond the limitation that firearm ownership is barred to anyone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective.”  Here, there is no adjudication — but merely a box being checked by a bureaucrat or government contractor.  And, there is no determination in no way relates to  being a “mental defective.”  Lastly, the SSA regulations are at odds with the views of federal courts which have considered the question. Read More

Wrenn v. District of Columbia

Michael Harless Constitutional 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, in support of a challenge to the District of Columbia’s requirement that a person must demonstrate a “good reason” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  Our brief noted that before Heller, the federal courts perpetuated the charade that the right of “the People” was a collective rather than an individual right.  Now, we argued, the lower courts are perpetuating a new charade — that rights which “shall not be infringed” can indeed be infringed so long as the government strongly desires to do so, and judges believe the regulations are reasonable.  Our brief argued that use of such “interest-balancing” tests permits judges to come to whatever result they prefer, as this case uniquely indicates. 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

Colorado Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court as to Some Colorado Gun Restrictions

Michael Harless Litigation

Our firm has been pleased to be co-counsel on a state constitutional challenge to the 2013 Colorado firearms gun control laws restricting possession of “high capacity” magazines and requiring background checks for private sales.  The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that we were entitled to a hearing on the magazine issue, but affirmed the background check issue.  Notably, one of the judges filed an important dissent.  Judge Graham’s opinion adopted our arguments that the Second Amendment is to be analyzed by a “text, history, tradition” analysis, not according to interest balancing tests such as in a pre-Heller Colorado case that used a “reasonableness” analysis. 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