A Federal judge in Ft. Worthy yesterday said that the ban on the interstate sale of handguns was unconstitutional. By interstate, I mean where the purchaser both buys and takes possession of his or her handgun in a non-resident state. The Gun Control Act of 1968 allowed the interstate sale of long guns but expressly forbid it for handgun. This is a big win for gun rights. It is also a win for Alan Gura as well as the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
From CCRKBA on the win:
CCRKBA WINS SAF-FUNDED CASE ON INTERSTATE HANDGUN TRANSFER BAN
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
BELLEVUE, WA – The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today won a major federal court ruling in a case involving interstate handgun transfers in which the judge applied strict scrutiny to determine whether a ban on such transfers meets constitutional muster.
The case, which was financially supported by the Second Amendment Foundation, is known as Mance v. Holder. It involves plaintiffs residing in the District of Columbia and Texas, and could have far-reaching ramifications, according to CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb.
“Our lawsuit strikes at the heart of a debate that has been ongoing for several years, since the creation of the National Instant Check System (NICS),” Gottlieb said. “With the advent of the NICS system, it makes no sense to perpetuate a ban on interstate transfers of handguns.”
Indeed, in his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, writes, “(T)he Court finds that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment.”
The judge later added, “By failing to provide specific information to demonstrate the reasonable fit between this ban and illegal sales and lack of notice in light of the Brady Act amendments to the 1968 Gun Control Act, the ban is not substantially related to address safety concerns. Thus, even under intermediate scrutiny, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unconstitutional on its face.”
CCRKBA and the individual plaintiffs are represented by Virginia attorney Alan Gura and Texas attorney William B. “Bill” Mateja of Fish & Richardson in Dallas.
“It is bizarre and irrational to destroy the national market for an item that Americans have a fundamental right to purchase,” Gura observed. “Americans would never tolerate a ban on the interstate sale of books or contraceptives. And Americans are free to buy rifles and shotguns outside their state of residence, so long as the dealers respect the laws of the buyer’s home state. We’re gratified that the Court agreed that handguns should be treated no differently.”
From Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned:
I’m sure it will take a while for FFLs to get updated on this, but unless the government appeals the ruling, and the decision is stayed or reversed, the 11th of February will go down as the day we won Interstate sales of handguns through FFLs. This is a great win for us, and one which I would like to congratulate and thank Mr. Gura and his plaintiffs.
Sebastian has more on the case here.
Attorney Dave Hardy at Arms and the Law has this to say about the reach of the ruling:
UPDATE: it’s not clear to me how the ruling applies geographically. Clearly it applies in the Northern District of Texas. But it orders the Attorney General (any by extension anyone working under him) to stop enforcing the requirement, so may apply anywhere: if he enforced it in Maine or in Washington, he’d have violated the injunction, and could be held in contempt by the Texas court. Citizens’ Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was an organizational plaintiff (the court cites to it without the first word in its name), suing on behalf of its members, so the ruling would protect, at the very least, its members.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Fredric Russell Mance, Jr aka Rick Mance is a fellow gun blogger and blogs at Traction Control. His response is summed up in his headline: Heh. He also has links to other posts about the decision.
I have not had a chance to read the full decision yet as I was podcasting last night. I hope to have another post up after I read through the decision. In the meantime, you can find the opinion and order from US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor here.