Today we filed our second brief in as many months explaining why fully automatic weapons (termed in federal law “machine guns”) are protected “arms” under the Second Amendment — in the Third Circuit. The earlier brief was Hollis v. Lynch, filed on November 2, 2015 — in the 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.
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.
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.
On July 1, 2015, our firm again joined with co-counsel Barry K. Arrington, Esquire to file in the Colorado Court of Appeals a Reply Brief. We counter the arguments in Colorado’s brief which asked the Court to affirm the district court’s order dismissing our complaint challenging Colorado’s new gun laws.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our comments on behalf of Gun Owners America, Inc. to the Department of Health and Human Services on proposed HIPPA rules were cited in an article by Stephanie E. Pearl, “HIPPA: Caught in the Cross Fire,” published in the Duke University Law Journal, vol. 64, no. 3, p. 559, 565, n. 39 (2014).
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.
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.
For the second time in as many months, our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, expressing opposition to the ATF’s continuing effort to require federally licensed firearms dealers (FFL’s) to report to ATF information regarding the sale of multiple rifles.
Purportedly concerned about firearms being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, three years ago ATF snuck past the courts a requirement that all FFLs located in the four southwest border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) must report to the ATF any sale to a single person of two or more rifles within a five day period.
Today, our firm filed a brief to uphold gun rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in support of a Petition for Rehearing En Banc, in the case Jackson v. San Francisco, No. 12-17803.
San Francisco ordinances prohibit the possession of a handgun within the home unless it is (i) being worn on the person or (ii) locked away. San Francisco also prohibits the purchase of hollowpoint ammunition within city limits. A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit had upheld the ordinances on the ground that they “limit but do not destroy Second Amendment rights,” standing in stark contrast to the text of the Second Amendment which states clearly that the right “shall not be infringed.”
Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the caseJohnson v. U.S., No. 13-7120.
The Petitioner, Johnson had been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Ordinarily, the trial judge would have had discretion to sentence Johnson up to 10 years in prison. However, the judge determined that Johnson met the definition of an “armed career criminal” under federal law, and thus subjecting him to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.
See note above on “Comments filed with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives opposing Multiple Rifle Sales Reporting (take two)” filed on July 23.
Our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit an amicusbrief in support of Connecticut gun owners who challenged Connecticut’s ban of so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines.”
The law being challenged was passed by anti-gun Connecticut legislators and signed by an anti-gun Governor, riding a wave of hysteria following the December 2012 mass murder of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut. Those supporting the law claimed that to stop the violence “military style” weapons must be banned.
President Obama announced that his Administration would do all in its power to stop gun violence. By that he seems to have meant reducing private ownership of firearms. Now, it turns out that he is not just doing things within his presidential power to achieve that objective – he is usurping legislative power to amend statutes unilaterally.
On January 7, 2014, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), issued Proposed Rules designed to vastly increase the number of Americans prohibited from owning firearms, including many U.S. Veterans, by changing the meaning of words contained in laws passed by Congress.