Key Case Challenging Fed Ban of Handgun Sales to Non-State Residents Gains Momentum

(Photo: NRA-ILA)

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms continues to gain support for their lawsuit challenging the Fed’s ban on handgun sales to non-state residents.

This week the group announced that a number of amicus briefs have been filed to urge SCOTUS to review the case, which is known as Mance v. Whitaker.

“We’ve had awesome support from law professors and legal scholars, the firearms industry, Second Amendment organizations and state attorneys general,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica. “I am not only personally grateful for all of these amicus briefs, I’m also impressed with the quality of the arguments offered in support of this important case.”

An outdated federal law prohibits FFLs from selling handguns (and only handguns, not long guns or even NFA items) to residents of a different state. When D.C. natives Tracey and Andrew Hanson traveled to Frederic Mance’s gun shop in Texas to purchase handguns, well, naturally they couldn’t because of the law. So, together, they sued the government.

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Initially the trio, represented by attorney Alan Gura and financially supported by the Second Amendment Foundation, won in federal district court. But after an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, the trio lost 8-7 following an en banc review. Now, they’re hoping to take the fight to the highest court in the land.

“We believe the issue in this case is ripe for Supreme Court review, and obviously so do all of those people who have submitted these amicus briefs,” Gottlieb said. “With the advent of the NICS background check system, it seems silly to continue an outdated prohibition that modern technology has essentially rendered unnecessary. After all, if a law-abiding citizen can clear a background check and purchase a pistol in his or her home state, they will certainly clear that same NICS check in a different state.

“We allow citizens to purchase all sorts of products across state lines, from cars and appliances to power tools, clothing and cookware,” he continued. “It defies logic to prohibit interstate sales of the one tool that is specifically protected by the Constitution’s Second Amendment.”

With the recent addition of Justice Kavanaugh, the bench has a solid 5-4 pro-gun majority. Now is as good a time as ever to have SCOTUS rule on 2A cases. But the ball’s in their court (forgive the pun), of course. SCOTUS can opt not to hear the case. All we can do is hope these amicus briefs help move the needle and the high court chooses to take on Mance v. Whitaker sometime in 2019.  We’ll keep you posted.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • RGE December 28, 2018, 9:31 am

    I once tried to buy a rifle in another state, and was told that though they could do it, they wouldn’t because they were afraid of either a lawsuit or state regulators jumping on their butts. They agreed to ship it to an FFL in my home state.

    I think CA, NY, NJ, HI and other gun restrictive states would argue that they have a right to limit what can be purchased and owned by their residents and imported into their states. Honestly the gun laws in the U.S. are whack-o. The anti-gun states keep trying to come up with more insane ways to inhibit lawful gun ownership and yet they demonstrate the more they outlaw guns, the more the outlaws have MORE guns.

    • deanbob December 28, 2018, 2:36 pm

      If one can buy a gun via the mail, and take possession following a background check at one’s local FFE, what is the real difference buying in it person, following an approved background check?

      • LHTwist December 30, 2018, 9:59 pm

        The mail order process actually involves at least two transfers – one from the seller to your local FFL (sometimes via the seller’s local FFL). Then from your local FFL to you as the purchaser. You may have forwarded funds to the seller, but the final transfer of ownership occurs within your home state between you and that local FFL.

        The Hansons probaby had the option to purchase the firearm provided it was shipped to an FFL in their home state rather than them taking immediate possession, and then completing the transfer once they returned home.

        Bottom line, even mail order purchases are done through an in-state transfer.

        • Andy January 12, 2019, 10:32 am

          With the current background check system and the internet for the FFL to check the local state laws of the purchaser Theoretically you could sell to 80% of the country from any state. Pennsylvania’s PICS system is accessed over the phone and can be done anywhere in the country as an example there are only a few states that could not be accommodated via the internet and the phone system

  • Ed Bernacki December 28, 2018, 8:57 am

    I agree that it is nonsense to prohibit handgun purchases in a state you do not reside in, with the instant background check system in place. In a bit of irony, while visiting relatives in Connecticut recently, I bought a Pietta 1860 Army black powder pistol at a local Cabelas store, despite being a resident of Florida.
    I was able to buy it because as the clerk explained to me, “ATFE doesn’t classify black powder pistols as firearms by their definition, so I was able to buy it as a non-resident. This is interesting considering the laws Connecticut passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook school murders. I guess they didn’t look at the fact that once loaded, I can shoot 6 people with a BP pistol before I have to reload.

    • Freedom Lover December 30, 2018, 3:18 am

      The Connecticut politicians do not care about the kids that died in that school from that murderer. All they wanted to was an excuse to destroy the Second Amendment liberties of citizens in that State. It is just as easy to get a truck and run over people in a crowd as it is to shoot them with a gun. It is all about control of the population not safety or good will. Connecticut is no longer a free state.

      No free man shall be debarred the use of arms.

  • Mark N. December 28, 2018, 12:46 am

    Not that I disagree with the premise of the lawsuit, troubled waters lie ahead. first, there is not a “solid” 5-4 progun majority, it is more like 4-1-4, with the one being a wobbler. Second, there is the issue of state’s rights to regulate gun commerce and licensing restrictions. For example, NJ and NY require all residents to apply for and possess at all times a handgun license for each handgun owned; they will argue that allowing NY/NJ residents to purchase guns in other states without complying with their permitting and background requirements invades their licensing prerogatives. The same will be true for California with its ten day wait. I have no idea how those issues will play out, since federal law requires that the FFL comply with the requirements imposed by the purchaser’s state of residence.

    • Ton E December 28, 2018, 6:23 am

      “solid 5-4 progun majority”? What the heck is the author talking about?????

      • LHTwist December 30, 2018, 10:03 pm

        It would appear SCOTUS.

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