This has been a busy week for Alan Gura. He has had not one but two oral arguments on back to back days before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Moreover, both cases involve gun rights.
The first case, Lane v. Holder, is a challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968’s ban on the sales of handguns to non-residents of a state. The case was filed in 2011 and challenged the law on behalf of Michelle Lane, a resident of the District of Columbia, who had purchased two handguns in Virginia and could not pick them up there. At the time of the original filing, there was no active FFL in DC. The Second Amendment Foundation, Amanda Welling, and Matthew Welling are also plaintiffs in this case.
US District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia denied the motion for a preliminary injuction in July 2011. He also dismissed the case at that time. A few days later, Lane and the Second Amendment Foundation filed notice of appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The oral argument in this case were on Tuesday and an audio file is available here. The case was heard by Judges Diana Gribbon Motz, Allyson K. Duncan, and Henry F. Floyd. They were appointed to the 4th Circuit by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama respectively.
The arguments presented by both Alan Gura and the attorneys for Department of Justice and the VA State Police centered primarily around the issue of standing. Does the plaintiff have standing to ask for an injunction given the Federal and state laws in question restrict the FFL? Gura argues that they do and compares this case to other cases involving interstate wine shipments and contraceptives. The Supreme Court find in those cases that the restriction of distribution channels amounted to an Article III injury or, in layman’s terms, interference with interstate commerce. The counter-arguments from the attorneys for Holder and the VA State Police argue that there is no standing for the plaintiffs. The attorney for Virginia argued that their law would be valid if the Federal law was found unconstitutional or amended. They would transfer handguns to out of state residents because the person would meet the new requirements. The Department of Justice attorney argues that the out of state residents are not harmed as they can purchase a firearm anywhere and have it shipped to an in-state FFL. She also argued that Federal law merely backs up local laws and regulations regarding handgun sales.
Much of the questioning by the judges centered around having only one dealer in DC and the fees charged by Charles Sykes. One judge, I believe Judge Duncan, brought up the Ezell case and wondered how this differed from that. This question was aimed at the DOJ attorney.
The second case, Woollard v. Gallagher, has attracted more attention because the District Court ruled against the State of Maryland’s may-issue carry laws. The State of Maryland promptly appealed and the oral arguments were present yesterday. The audio of the oral arguments should be made available on Friday. In the meantime, thanks to Sebastian, there is a link to the Baltimore Sun’s coverage of the oral arguments.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has more on the oral arguments. The 3 judge panel consisted of Judges Andre Davis (Clinton), Robert King (Clinton), and Albert Diaz (Bush 44).
UPDATE II: The audio file for Woollard v. Gallagher has been posted. You can download or listen to it here.