Federal Judge Declares Ban on Interstate Handgun Sales Unconstitutional
February 13, 2015
Previous law required in-state liaison to facilitate interstate transaction
A federal judge declared the federal government’s ban on the interstate sale of handguns an unnecessary infringement on rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor said the ban did not date to the time of the founding, was not tailored to address the problem the government intended to address, and was unconstitutional.
“The Court concludes that Defendants have not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government’s goals under current law,” O’Connor said in the ruling. “The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face.”
Besides being unconstitutional on its face, O’Connor said the law was unconstitutional in how it was applied to the plaintiffs.
On June 21, 2014, Andrew and Tracy Hanson tried to buy two handguns from Texas-based gun dealer Fredric Mance. Since the Hansons are D.C. residents, a legal sale, under the interstate handgun transfer ban in the Gun Control Act of 1968, requires a D.C.-based gun dealer be involved in the transaction. The Hansons did not want to pay the hundreds of dollars in costs associated with involving a D.C.-based gun dealer in the transaction, and Mance lost the sale.
Ths Hansons and Mance, supported by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Second Amendment Foundation, filed suit in federal court over the ban.
“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,” Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said in a press release. “With the advent of the NICS system, it makes no sense to perpetuate a ban on interstate transfers of handguns.”
Gottlieb said the ruling “could have far-reaching ramifications.”
“It is bizarre and irrational to destroy the national market for an item that Americans have a fundamental right to purchase,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Alan Gura said. “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.”
The Department of Justice had not responded to a request for comment.