Federal judge strikes down ban on interstate handgun sales

Federal judge strikes down ban on interstate handgun sales

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that the ban on interstate handgun sales by federal firearm dealers is unconstitutional. Mance, a Texas federal firearms dealer, and the Hansons, residents of Washington, DC, who tried to purchase a handgun from Mance, brought this lawsuit with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms [advocacy website] challenging the federal ban. Section 922 of the Gun Control Act of 1968 [texts] states that individuals can only purchase out-of-state firearms when the guns have been transferred to an in-state federal dealer, with the exception of rifles and shotguns. The court ruled that the government failed to show how this ban “alleviates, in a material way, the problem of prohibited persons obtaining handguns” by traveling to another state and found the law unconstitutional on Second and Fifth Amendment [texts] grounds. Judge Reed O’Connor wrote for the court:

The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unique compared to other firearms restrictions because it does not target certain people (such as felons or the mentally ill), conduct (such as carrying firearms into government buildings or schools), or distinctions among certain classes of firearms (such as fully automatic weapons or magazine capacity). Instead, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban targets the entire national market of handgun sales and directly burdens law-abiding, responsible citizens who seek to complete otherwise lawful transactions for handguns.

The government is expected to appeal to the US Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit [official website].

Second Amendment rights [JURIST op-ed] are a controversial political issue in the US. In December the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that a law prohibiting individuals who have been committed to a mental institution for any amount of time from possessing a firearm is unconstitutional, which was the first time a court struck down a federal gun law under the Second Amendment since the Supreme Court [official website] effectively struck down [opinion] Washington, DC’s ban on firearms ownership six years ago. In June a judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado [official website] upheld two state statutes [JURIST report] that expanded mandatory background checks and banned high capacity magazines. Also in June the US Supreme Court ruled that the government can enforce a ban [JURIST report] on purchasing a gun for someone else, even if that other person is lawfully allowed to have a gun. In April a trial judge for the New York Supreme Court [official website] dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the state’s strict gun laws. Last February the US Supreme Court denied review [JURIST report] of three gun rights cases without comment.