For Immediate Release: 5/10/2011
BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today 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.”
Washington, DC is a federal district. It is part of NO state. The supreme authority over the district is the Congress of the United States. Congress is bound by the Constitution of the United States. Our rights are enumerated and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The right to keep and bear arms is expressed in the 2nd Amendment. And that right was recognized by the Supreme Court to apply to individuals.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use within the home in federal enclaves. The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states, which was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and determined that the right to keep and bear arms did apply to the states. It was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self defense.
All of this background is important because, at one time, Washington, D.C. banned the private ownership of handguns by its residents and placed onerous restrictions on ownership of any other firearm. According to Firearms Control Regulation Act of 1975, portions of which were declared unconstitutional, DC required all firearms including rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” and restricted residents from owning handguns except for those registered prior to 1975.”
The results of the Heller case were not popular within the halls of power in Washington, D.C. and the authorities were quick to exert any and every power to stymie firearm ownership in the capitol. How hard is it to purchase a firearm in DC? Well….its impossible. There are no firearms stores in Washington, DC. The procedure for acquiring a firearm in DC is convoluted.
One must purchase a firearm in another state and have that firearm transferred to a FFL in DC. FFL is short for Federal Firearms License. The irony is that the SOLE FFL in Washington, DC is Josh Sugarmann, of the Violence Policy Center, an extreme gun control organization. He has advocated BANNING handguns.
FFL # is 1-54-000-01-8C-00725
Its strange that he is allowed to have an FFL. He does not seem to be in the business of selling or transferring firearms as stated in the US code.
The Gun Control Act, as amended by The Firearms Owners` Protection Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-308), requires that persons engaged in the business of dealing in, manufacturing, or importing firearms, or manufacturing or importing ammunition, obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL). The federal firearms licensing system is administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Under the Gun Control Act, a “dealer” is defined as any person who is “engaged in the business of selling firearms at wholesale or retail,” “repairing firearms,” or “making or fitting special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms,” or who is a pawnbroker.
You see, Mr. Charles Sykes was the only FFL in DC that actually operated a business, transferring firearms from out of state to DC purchasers. However, he recently lost his lease through rezoning. Now, understand, he had no inventory. All he did was facilitate the movement of legal private property from out of state to the citizens of Washington, DC.
Indirect bans on ownership have been placed on citizens in Washington, DC through the restrictions of FFL’s and in Chicago by onerous and contradictory requirements for a firearm permit. Citizens, especially in DC, are prevented from exercising their rights by the laws preventing purchase of firearms by out of state residents, without a subsequent transfer through an FFL.
So, let’s see what a national common denominator of FFL assisted purchases exist:
The right to keep and bear arms has been recognized to be an individual right under the Constitution of the United States.
Every purchaser of a firearm through an FFL has a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Some areas have further restrictions on ownership, such as registration, background checks for ALL purchases, etc. But a right to own a firearm is recognized throughout the nation.
Why shouldn’t American citizens be allowed to exercise their rights equally throughout the nation? Are our rights to free expression and religious observation constrained differently from state to state? Why should the 2nd Amendment rights be treated differently from our 1st Amendment rights? Why can rights be abridged through local manipulations?