Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Federal Court Holds Ban on Interstate Transfer of Handguns Unconstitutional

Friday, February 13, 2015

Federal Court Holds Ban on Interstate Transfer of Handguns Unconstitutional

On Wednesday, Judge Reed O’Conner of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an opinion and order in Mance v. Holder, holding provisions of federal law that generally prohibit the interstate sale of handguns to be unconstitutional.  Subject to very limited exceptions, the challenged federal law prohibited a federally licensed firearms dealer from transferring a handgun, but not a rifle or shotgun, to any non-licensed individual who resided in a state other than the state where the dealer’s business was located. 

The plaintiffs, a husband and wife from the District of Columbia and a Texas firearms dealer, wished to conduct a transfer of a handgun in Texas that the D.C. residents would then take back to their place of residence in D.C.  A significant motivation for the plaintiffs in seeking to buy a handgun outside of their state of residence is the complete lack of a stocking firearms dealer in the District.  There is only a single dealer in D.C. and, due in large part to D.C.'s byzantine regulatory scheme, he does not maintain any inventory. 

After establishing that the plaintiffs had sufficient standing to raise their claim, the court began its analysis of whether the interstate transfer ban violated the Second Amendment.  First, the court determined that it would evaluate the ban “facially” and as applied to the plaintiffs specific situation.  A successful facial challenge completely prohibits the enforcement of the challenged law, while a successful as-applied challenge only stops the government from enforcing the law against the plaintiff and those similarly situated.  Next, the court applied the two-step analytical framework adopted by the Fifth Circuit in National Rifle Association v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Under this framework, the reviewing court must first determine whether the challenged law regulates conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment and only then does the court determine the applicable level of judicial scrutiny and whether or not the law survives this level of scrutiny.

In the case of the interstate handgun transfer ban, the first step of the analysis was relatively easy for the court because the government could not offer evidence of any pre-20th century residency requirements for firearm acquisition and the ban applied specifically to handguns, a class of “arm” that the Supreme Court already clearly identified as being protected by the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller.  For these reasons, and because the ban generally applied to everyone who wished to acquire a handgun rather than a limited subset of the population or a small subset of “arms”, the court applied the highest level of judicial scrutiny at its disposal.

Having determined the applicable level of scrutiny, the court then evaluated the government’s supposed justification for the ban.  The government primarily argued that the ban was justified by Congress’s wish to reduce violent crime involving handguns.  It also advanced the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect the right of individuals to sell firearms.  The court essentially dismissed the latter argument entirely and focused on the crime-reduction justification.  While the court found that the ban was indeed supported by a compelling governmental interest, the court determined that it was neither sufficiently narrowly tailored  or the least restrictive means of meeting this goal  because government’s justification completely ignored intervening changes to federal law since the ban’s enactment.  The court reasoned that the requirement that federally licensed dealers conduct a background check on any potential transferee, taken with the prohibition on dealers transferring a firearm to an individual that would violate that laws of the individual’s state of residence, ruled out any justification for the ban on interstate handgun transfers.  In fact, the court found that so little justification existed for the ban given the more recent additions to federal gun law, that the ban would not survive even a lower level of scrutiny. 

Interestingly, the ban that the executive branch vigorously defended in this case would have been repealed by a proposal that President Obama supported in 2013.  The court’s opinion in this case also shows the value of strict scrutiny when applied to gun-control laws, which is why NRA has supported measures in a number of states to require strict scrutiny in any case reviewing a law that burdens the right to keep and bear arms.  While the government has not yet signaled its intent to appeal, it is likely that the decision will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit. In the meantime, the government may seek to have the effect of the decision delayed pending the appeal.

To keep up-to-date on this and other court battles to protect and advance the Second Amendment, go to https://www.nraila.org/legal-legislation/legal-updates/

TRENDING NOW

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Florida Alert: YETI Drops NRA Foundation

For years YETI Coolers have been a hot item for sportsmen at the Friends of NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction events around the country.  Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with The ...

News  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ALERT ! YETI Adds Insult to Injury

If it wasn’t bad enough that YETI dropped The NRA Foundation as a client, now they’re calling us liars because we informed our members and friends of their actions.  

Dick’s Sporting Goods/Field & Stream to Destroy Firearms Inventory

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dick’s Sporting Goods/Field & Stream to Destroy Firearms Inventory

Dick’s Sporting Goods took their campaign to alienate law-abiding gun owners to an extraordinary new level last week. The beleaguered retailer announced that in addition to removing certain types of semi-automatic rifles from their stores, the company ...

NRA Statement on Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

News  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

NRA Statement on Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action executive director, Chris W. Cox, released the following statement on Tuesday regarding President Donald Trump's signature on the National Defense Authorization Act

California: Legislation Requiring Background Checks on Barrels and Other Parts Up For Hearing!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

California: Legislation Requiring Background Checks on Barrels and Other Parts Up For Hearing!

Several pro- and anti-gun bills are scheduled to be heard in their respective committees on Monday, April 23 and Tuesday, April 24.  Please contact the members of the respective committee and urge them to SUPPORT ...

Another Group of Anti-Gun Celebrities Forms!  In Other News, The Sun Rose Today.

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Another Group of Anti-Gun Celebrities Forms! In Other News, The Sun Rose Today.

In case you were worried there were not enough anti-gun organizations working to eradicate the rights of law-abiding gun owners, a new one has formed, and it’s called NoRA.  Get it?  The name implies that the ...

Keep Calm and Carry On: Pro-Gun Sentiment Reasserts Itself in Wake of Antigun Blitz

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Keep Calm and Carry On: Pro-Gun Sentiment Reasserts Itself in Wake of Antigun Blitz

Like the long-delayed coming of spring to the Mid-Atlantic, evidence is appearing that Americans are regaining their senses and reverting to an instinctual embrace of freedom after a withering barrage of some the nastiest and most ugly ...

Illinois: Senate to Consider Overriding Veto on Dealer Licensing Bills

Monday, April 23, 2018

Illinois: Senate to Consider Overriding Veto on Dealer Licensing Bills

With the April 25th deadline approaching, the Illinois state Senate is expected soon to consider overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto on legislation that would drive your local gun stores out of business with onerous red tape ...

Delaware: Mandatory Gun Storage Legislation to be Heard in Committee Today

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Delaware: Mandatory Gun Storage Legislation to be Heard in Committee Today

Today, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider anti-gun House Bill 366.

Minnesota: Two Anti-Gun Amendments to be Introduced and Considered Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Minnesota: Two Anti-Gun Amendments to be Introduced and Considered Tomorrow

Tomorrow, anti-gun state Senator Ron Latz is expected to introduce two gun control amendments to the Senate Judiciary Omnibus finance bill on the Senate floor.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.