May 16, 2011

SAF Challenges Interstate Handgun Sales Ban

( – The Second Amendment Foundation recently filed suit in U.S. District Court in Virginia challenging the constitutionality of federal and Virginia provisions barring handgun sales to non-residents.

SAF is joined in the lawsuit by Michelle Lane, a District of Columbia resident who cannot legally purchase handguns because there are no retail firearms dealers inside the District. The Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller ruling struck down the District’s handgun ban, confirming that individuals have a constitutional right to possess handguns.

SAF and Lane are represented by attorney Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky, PLLC, who won both the Heller ruling and last year’s Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Named as defendants are Attorney General Eric Holder and W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police.

“This is an important issue in the era of the national instant background check,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The NICS check should allow law-abiding citizens like Miss Lane to exercise their Second Amendment rights regardless their place of residence.”

“Americans don’t check their constitutional rights at the state line,” said Gura. “And since Michelle Lane is legally entitled to possess firearms, forcing her to seek a non-existing D.C. dealer to buy a handgun is pointless when perfectly legitimate options exist minutes across the Potomac River.”

“The Supreme Court has ruled that District residents have an individual right, protected by the Constitution, to have a handgun in their home,” Gottlieb noted. “The high court has also ruled that the Second Amendment applies to the states. Existing state and federal statutes violate both the spirit and letter of recent court rulings and the Constitution, and our lawsuit seeks to remedy that situation.”

SAF has previously funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, CT; and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners, a lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers and an amicus brief and fund for the Emerson case holding the Second Amendment as an individual right.

Comments (6)

Interstate Commerce was used by the trash industry to void attempts at "flow control" where various jurisdictions, including states, tried to legislate whose trash went where. They would usually restrict disposal in their state to trash originating therein. Much of the argument to support such restrictions revolves around road wear, which is "covered" by interstate fuel taxes, as well as the increase of truck traffic in general and the purported reduction in highway safety associated therewith. Of course, when you restrict where people can "buy" the disposal, you artificially reduce "supply" and thus drive up prices. Disposal costs are a huge chunk of a trash company's budget, and flow control can double those costs. It's been a while since I looked at it, but the last I recall, the rulings were in favor of the trash industry's Interstate Commerce argument; probably from the state supreme courts.

There is a certain logic that if you produce trash, you should responsibly dispose of it in your "own backyard" as opposed to someone else's, especially when you consider the volume of trash produced by a state like New York, and New York City. Hmmmm, back to NYC causing a lot of problems for the rest of us....

Posted by: PVB | May 20, 2011 6:42 AM    Report this comment

It's an interesting idea you have, PVB. And it's logical. Which means that you're probably wrong--we are talking about the government, after all. From what I can remember in law school (a hundred or so years ago) the Interstate Commerce laws have always been used by the government against an individual or small business (a Kansas wheat farmer in the depression ordered not to grow wheat for personal use because it might affect overall prices, Lester Maddox being ordered to serve black folks at his diner because they may be traveling between states, etc.). As far as I am aware the laws have always been used as a government sword, never as an individual's shield. But that might, possibly, maybe be subject to change. After all the first uses of the Anti-trust laws were against unions.

Posted by: Visigoth52 | May 20, 2011 12:43 AM    Report this comment

“This is an important issue in the era of the national instant background check,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The NICS check should allow law-abiding citizens like Miss Lane to exercise their Second Amendment rights regardless their place of residence.”

According to Wayne L. (NRA) and the DOJ. No one has ever been convicted of violating the "Brady Law".
National Rifleman Op ED. 1-2010 and 1-2011.And DOJ web site.
I got a response from Wayne in 11-2009. And it appeared in his op. ed. 1-2010.
Gun Control Inc. always talks about "how many felons were prevented from purchasing". But, never how many were convicted.

Posted by: Zippy06 | May 19, 2011 8:25 PM    Report this comment

Best Wishes for success to Ms. Lane and the SAF. But really, if the suit fails, I'm sure she can buy one from a private owner. Hell, D.C. is full of guns - though mostly either illegal or owned by some Fed official or representative. Think about this - if any damned 15 year-old drug dealer in D.C. can manage to buy a gun, there's no reason why Ms. Lane shouldn't be able to do that - legally or otherwise.

Posted by: david b | May 19, 2011 2:10 PM    Report this comment

Maybe this is a Visigoth question, but does anyone know why the Interstate Commerce clause has never been used to get this tossed?

Posted by: PVB | May 19, 2011 1:55 PM    Report this comment

As most are aware, the prohibition against interstate purchase of handguns is one of the nice little provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68). I truly hope that SAF can pull off a win in the case discussed above, but I will not hold my breath. Another approach that I found interesting, was that when I returned from combat in Vietnam in 1970, I was posted at Fort Benning, Georgia as an instructor at the Infantry School. To my amazement and dismay, the best gun shop in the area was in Phenix City, Alabama. Of course GCA68 is very specific concerning the prohibition of cross-border purchases. That said, however, Georgia and Alabama had entered into a contiguous states purchase agreement so that residents of Columbus and Fort Benning could, indeed, cross the Chattahoochee River and purchase whatever they chose from the Davis Gun Shop. Could something like that work for the case cited above? I don't think that such a contiguous states agreement can apply between DC (a federal enclave) and the Commonwealth of Virginia.....

Posted by: canovack | May 19, 2011 12:17 PM    Report this comment

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