Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban Declared Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

Alan Gottlieb, the chairman of the Citizens Commission for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  Check out our interview with Alan at SHOT Show 2015.

Alan Gottlieb, the chairman of the Citizens Commission for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Check out our interview with Alan at SHOT Show 2015.

In what may be a game changer, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the law that prevents federal firearms licensees or gun shop dealers from selling handguns directly to residents of another state is unconstitutional “on its face.”

Represented by The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms the plaintiffs in the case, a Texas gun dealer and two District of Columbia residents argued that it violated their Second Amendment rights, among other Constitutionally protected-rights, to have to transfer the handgun to another FFL in Washington, D.C, before the two law-abiding residents would be permitted to possess the handgun. In short, the judge agreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, wrote, “(T)he Court finds that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment.”

The judge went on to add, “By failing to provide specific information to demonstrate the reasonable fit between this ban and illegal sales and lack of notice in light of the Brady Act amendments to the 1968 Gun Control Act, the ban is not substantially related to address safety concerns. Thus, even under intermediate scrutiny, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unconstitutional on its face.”

Alan Gura, the attorney for the plaintiffs, commented on the nonsensical nature of the law.

“It is bizarre and irrational to destroy the national market for an item that Americans have a fundamental right to purchase,” Gura observed.

“Americans would never tolerate a ban on the interstate sale of books or contraceptives,” he continued. “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.”

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb echoed those thoughts, “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 (NICS). With the advent of the NICS system, it makes no sense to perpetuate a ban on interstate transfers of handguns.”

Whether the Justice Department or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will attempt to appeal the decision is not yet clear. If they do (they probably will), it will reach the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, then perhaps on to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, a big congratulations to the CCRKBA and the plaintiffs in the case!

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

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Jeff January 9, 2016, 7:47 pm

    It has been a year.There is a time limit for an appeal.Where does this stand now?

  • Steve October 30, 2015, 7:24 am

    The 2nd amendment doesn’t exist. Everyone that believes it does needs to take a step back, re-read history, and understand the bill of rights. Being that the “bill of rights” cannot (well, technically, cannot be amended), there is no second amendment, there is only a 2nd Article. If it was an amendment as everyone claims it to be, it CAN be amended, and therefore taken away. If a man can grant it, a man can take away. The first 10 articles are statements that SECURE one’s rights granted by their creator, not amended to allow you to have them. Do not be duped by statue law, make sure to understand what is legal vs. lawful, there is a difference. This may sound like semantics, but always remember, law IS the essence of semantics.

    Every man and woman has the LAWFUL (not legal) RIGHT for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without infringment, as long as infringment of others doesnt happen (see as many holy texts as you wish). Legal terms infringe immediately upon what is lawful. The creator (whatever you wanna call him/her/it), is the only sovereign entity that allows or grants anything.

    Say what you will, but, until everyone understands what I stated, this country is in dire straights.

    God bless you all, never call yourself a person. You are a man or a woman. (Romans 2:17 KJV)

    • Flyboyron January 13, 2017, 11:43 am

      Jeez. Another Internet lawyer who has no idea what he’s talking about. Study a little more REAL history, and you’ll find out how much you don’t know, and how wrong you are on this Second Amendment issue. See how well it goes when you someday end up in court. Hopefully, your real lawyer paid a little more attention to the real study of the law.

  • Redstone May 26, 2015, 8:50 am

    Yes, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing……. like Hank Bradley. Hank boyo is trolling on this site and spreading innuendo and twisted information. The felony that Alan Gottlieb was convicted of was a tax law. Check out the piece that Hank references, its nothing more than a liberal hit piece on Gottlieb. Only in an anti gun liberal world would William F. Buckley be called a neo con Trotskyite. Beware of Hank Bradley and other liberals like him trolling on this site.

  • Ken in Michigan February 17, 2015, 1:08 pm

    Since, if this ruling is upheld by a Court of Appeals to have precedence and stand as “a law based on precedence (i. e. Common Law), this requires the sale of a handgun being shipped across state lines meet with the purchaser’s state laws this could make the seller’s paperwork load heavier. My state, Michigan requires either a handgun purchase permit that is issued by the local law enforcement body or a Concealed Carry License before the purchase can be made and then both the seller and the purchaser must report the purchase to the same local law enforcement body within a few days. For a FFL seller in another state to know and comply with just Michigan’s laws would be a nightmare. Don’t expect this ruling to make any difference in the present system of transferring firearms through your local FFL. True, there might be a small free for the service, but if you can purchase the weapon you want and can legally own that way it really doesn’t seen a great inconvenience. Hasn’t been for me on the interstate purchases I have made.

  • Hank Bradley February 17, 2015, 10:02 am

    Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing…..
    Gottlieb is pure disinformation for the establishment, not to mention a convicted felon and cannot even own a gun

  • Bruce February 17, 2015, 9:41 am

    In the first place this does not address any state laws just Federal. State laws will not be overturned by this and of course it will be appealed and the ranting and ravings of the anti-gun crowd will be heard loud and clear on national news programs. Now if it should be upheld on appeal and even goes to the Supreme court and gets upheld again then it can be the basis for the dismantling of the Brady bill and maybe even the Gun Control act of 1968. But it will take time and states have to be taken down too. So lets do a little at a time just like the gun grabbers do.

  • John Hoglin February 16, 2015, 10:48 pm

    Am I the only one who noticed that “Court Decisions” in favor of the 2nd amendment are ignored? But if this was a Gay rights decision they would be issuing licenses the next day. The 10 day waiting period was ruled unconstitutional in California but the state was given 6 months longer to figure out how deal with their unconstitutional law, which means citizens’ rights are being abused for 6 more months(at least). It is time that states like CA, NY, MA to have their rights to regulate guns removed and placed in review of the Fed Gov. just like Southern states lost the right to establish voter laws under the voting rights act.

  • D. Michael Taylor February 16, 2015, 10:54 am

    This has long been a grievance to me. It makes no sense to me, and seems to conflict with interstate commerce laws. Living along the border of two states, with most local retailers across the border; I must travel a substantial distance to find an advertised handgun at a retail affiliate in my state of residence. Nonsensical!

  • nick February 16, 2015, 8:15 am

    I am new to the world of guns and as such have been learning a lot form the articles I read. My question is this with this decision from the federal judge will it apply for online purchases as well or just for in person transactions? It may be a stupid question but as I said I am new and still learning.

    • Walter Sobchak February 16, 2015, 8:45 am

      Nick– You ask a good question. The decision would apply to on-line purchases, which wouldn’t be any different than by-mail, or by-telephone purchases. That said, don’t look for GunsAmerica merchants to stop requiring a transfer through your local FFL. This decision isn’t like to get much widespread respect until it’s affirmed at the appellate level (at least).
      PS–Never worry about asking a “stupid question.” It’s far, far better to ask a stupid question than to make a stupid, stupid statement, like that dipshit Kyle (above) who thinks the Constitution is “just a piece of paper.” I wonder if Kyle feels the same way about the Bible?

      • John G February 16, 2015, 2:22 pm

        I was wondering the same thing. If the law has been overturned then it should effective based on the date of the ruling. Why would merchants/consumers need to wait for an appeal that may or may not happen? I would argue that as of the date of this ruling, if a merchant states a requirement to ship to an FFL holder of the buyer, they would now be in violation of the buyer’s 2nd amendment rights. Why not reach out to all GunsAmerica merchants and reassure them of the ruling and clearly state the new requirements for out of state transfers? Maybe the NRA can tackle this at a broader level.

      • nick February 17, 2015, 7:52 am

        just as clarification for me if I were to purchase a firearm online would I be able to have it shipped to my door without worries of violating the laws or will have to be shipped to a dealer ffl or otherwise. I’m asking because I know the government loves their paperwork. Thank you for the insight on this subject.

        • John G February 17, 2015, 5:25 pm

          That’s what all merchants and buyers need to understand. The ruling clearly states that the requirement of shipping a firearm to the buyer’s FFL holder instead of directly to the buyer is unconstitutional. With this ruling, the seller would process the transfer and ship the firearm directly to the buyer. The problem is that merchants have been operating under the old rules for so long, they will be reluctant to change due to “fear” of litigation even though the new process is perfectly legal. We need GunsAmerica and similar groups along with the NRA to establish the guidelines and put merchants at ease with respect to this ruling.

        • topol September 23, 2016, 9:33 am

          Not a chance, this ruling would apply to in person transfers only. This ruling would simply apply the law to handgun purchases that already exists for long gun purchases. One may already legally purchase a long gun in any state, regardless of residency. Currently, one may only purchase a handgun only within their state of residence. In no case would this ruling bar the federal requirement for a background check when purchasing from any dealer, something that cannot be done via online, mail or telephone.

  • kyle February 12, 2015, 1:14 pm

    I find it a bit ironic how he can see the interstate tranfer ban as unconstitutional but not the brady act, NFA, Gun control act, or any of the others as unconstitutional. The constitution is just a piece of paper, and “representatives” whether they be judges, senators, presidents ect, are just people. The idea that a piece of paper and a person bear any legitimacy in telling me how I can buy tools to defend myself, or for any other action is asinine.

    • John S February 16, 2015, 8:19 am

      The Constitution may be “just a piece of paper”, but it’s a damned important piece of paper that up until now has kept people like Obama from running things the way that HE wants for over 200 years. No other country in the world has a Constitution that says it’s our God-given right to own and carry a firearm to be used in defense of our rights and freedoms. I spent 20 years of my life wearing a uniform and defending those rights for ALL American citizens. I just hope that if I live to see another 20 years, I won’t see the whole thing torn to pieces by IDIOTS who want to trample all over that “piece of paper”.

      • LCDR USN (Ret.) February 16, 2015, 8:53 am

        John S.,
        Don’t worry, you won’t see the Constitution “torn to pieces” because there are thousands that still honor the oath we took.

        • jdstx February 16, 2015, 9:56 am

          How many would really stand up? I fear not many. Despite the words of the oath of enlistment, in actual practice the military commands allegiance to politicians (the president and general and other senior officers), not the Constitution, else one’s military career be ruined.

          • ggv June 1, 2015, 1:59 pm

            Only 5% of Americans a tually got off their dead ass and onto their dying feet to fight the red coats. Now, a quarter of america r limp wristed and the other 90% indifferent and only concerned bout themselves.. I think its about 1% of ‘patriots’ that will stand and fight. But it u google ‘real life terminators’.. And ‘atlas’ is about 5 years old.. We now have a whole new worry. Isaac asimov predicted problems a hundred years ago.. With the influx of hostile.immigrants and white.males.sucking each other off.. We’re doomed

      • bob February 17, 2015, 7:09 am

        Your right the constitution says its YOUR GOD GIVEN RIGHT. That means that God gave you the right not the constitution.
        The constitution only list the rights that you are born with and no man or piece of paper can give them to you or take them away they can only prevent you from exorcizing them. ALL MEN ARE BORN WITH CERTAIN UNAILIABLE RIGHTS GIVEN TO THEM BY GOD.

  • Rich February 11, 2015, 6:28 pm

    Now, if they would overturn NY ban on purchasing ammo online.

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