On November 26, 2008, the firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in support of Bill Akins. Akins is the inventor of the Akins Accelerator — a patented replacement stock of a semiautomatic firearm that through controlled “bump firing” increases the rate of fire, after an initial trigger pull, by multiple functions of the trigger controlled by the shooter’s well-placed trigger finger.
On September 26, 2008, we filed on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation an amicus brief in United States v. Hayes. The GOF brief urged the Supreme Court to affirm a Fourth Circuit court of appeals ruling that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, an individual does not lose the right to own a gun unless the prosecutor in the misdemeanor case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the misdemeanor event was, in fact, a domestic one.
We filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of two former Border Patrol agents’ Petitions for Rehearing. This brief emphasized areas where the Fifth Circuit panel’s decision was inconsistent with the law as set forth in our earlier brief filed with the court on May 25, 2007.
Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Congressmen Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Virgil H. Goode, Jr. (R-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX), Gun Owners Foundation, U.S. Border Control Foundation, U.S. Border Control, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Today, on behalf of Gun Owners of American and Gun Owners Foundation, we filed comments opposing the United States Postal Service’s “Proposed New Standards Prohibit the Mailing of Replica or Inert Munitions.” (See 73 Fed. Reg. 12321.) The new rule proposes to declare nonmailable “[r]eplica or inert munitions.”
The comments demonstrate that the proposed standard is unauthorized by law, and violative of the Postal Service’s Universal Service Obligation. Additionally, the comments show how the proposed new rule is vague and, as a consequence, could include all sorts of unintended items.
Today, the day after oral argument in the Heller case in which we filed an amicus brief, Herb Titus and Bill Olson were asked to write an op-ed piece for USA Today.
The USA Today editors wrote an editorial entitled “Our View: Preserve limits on guns” and our counterpoint is entitled “Opposing view: An unambiguous right.”
Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in the D.C. gun ban case, District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller, No. 07-290. The brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of California, Inc., Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral argument today in the Ramos/Compean appeal. Our local counsel, Mark Brewer, was in attendance and sat at counsel table with the attorneys for appellants Ramos and Compean.
The three-judge panel consisted of Judges E. Grady Jolly, Patrick E. Higgenbotham, and Edward C. Prado. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Stelmach argued on behalf of the United States, Robert Baskett appeared for defendant Compean, andDavid Botsford appeared for defendant Ramos.
An Associated Press article discussed the case now pending in the 10th Circuit in which we filed an amicus brief for Gun Owners’ Foundation on behalf of the State of Wyoming. Herb Titus of our firm was interviewed for the article, and quoted as saying “the Wyoming case is significant because the issue of whether restoration of gun rights is defined by federal regulations or state law is pending in trial courts around the country.”
Today Bill Olson was a guest on the Glen Beck Program on CNN Headline News to discuss the amicus brief filed in the Ramos/Compean case, and how the brief explains that Ramos and Compean were charged with, tried for, and convicted of a federal crime that does not exist.
Today we filed a Brief Amicus Curiae for Gun Owners Foundation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in support of the State of Wyoming and Wyoming Attorney General Patrick J. Crank. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (“BATF”) argued that Wyoming Stat. Ann. § 7-13-1502(k), which provides for the expungement with regards to restoring firearms rights to a person convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (“MCDV”), (a) is insufficient as an exemption from the NICS background check and (b) does not authorize the person eligible to purchase a firearm.
Congressman Walter Jones submitted a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the Committee to use its power and influence to persuade the President to pardon Ramos and Compean, two border patrol agents wrongfully convicted of a crime that does not exist. In support of his plea, Mr. Jones cited the amicus brief filed by this firm on his behalf and others in support of the agents’ appeal in the Fifth Circuit. At the heart of Jones’ appeal to the Committee was the contention in our amicus brief “that no person should stand charged with, and convicted of, a crime that was never defined by Congress. Indeed, in our system of separation of powers, the rule of law demands that prosecutors enforce the law as Congress has defined it, not as the prosecution would like it to be.”
On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, our firm authored “BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney’s Guide.” The guide is intended to provide a procedural overview for attorneys unfamiliar with civil forfeiture law as it applies to firearms, including what to expect from the BATF, and how to go about recovering seized assets.
This manual has been revised as of January 30, 2009.
On June 18, 2007, Congressman Walter Jones addressed the U.S. House of Representatives about the Ramos and Compean case. He explained the issues raised in the amicus brief we recently filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Congressman Jones explained how the agents were convicted of a crime which Congress never enacted into law. The Congressman has asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the matter and to ensure that justice be done.
Today we filed a Brief Amicus Curiae in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit supporting the appeal of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean. Counts four and five of the indictment charge the two with “Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence,” under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c), which the Supreme Court has ruled is only a sentencing factor, not one of the three elements — “using,” “carrying,” or “possessing” a firearm. See Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002).
On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Watson v. United States. This brief asks the Court to overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and to re-establish the common law rule of strict construction of criminal statutes. In this case, an undercover agent sought to buy drugs from Watson, and offered a firearm as part of the purchase price. The federal government indicted Watson for not only the drug sale, but also for the “use” of a firearm in connection with a federal drug trafficking crime, which would greatly increase the sentence if convicted. Clearly, in the normal sense of the word, receiving a gun is not “using” a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime, but the Fifth Circuit interpreted the word “use” broadly to encompass receipt. Had the rule of strict construction been applied to this case, and “use” interpreted in its normal sense, Mr. Watson would not be faced with a mandatory additional minimum prison sentence of five years under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c). Our amicus brief also asks the Court to reject the modern “rule of lenity” that has proved to be no substitute for strict construction. Strict construction of federal criminal law is necessary to preserve constitutional separation of powers, as well as principles of federalism. Our amicus brief illustrates how allowing police and prosecutors to go beyond the words of the statute to define a crime opens up opportunities for abuse.