Suit Filed to Get SCOTUS to Tackle Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban

Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb (Photo: CCRKBA Facebook)

The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to hear any major gun-related cases since the Heller and McDonald rulings nearly a decade ago. Now that the court’s makeup has shifted, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) is petitioning SCOTUS to rule on what they say is an outdated ban on interstate handgun sales.

They filed the petition for a writ of certiorari on behalf of two Washington, D.C., residents — Tracey and Andrew Hanson — who were denied the ability to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer in Texas. The District allows residents to purchase a handgun out of state (provided the purchase is certified by police), but federal law barred them from transporting the firearm to D.C.

“The ban on interstate handgun sales was adopted decades ago,” noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “prior to the advent of the National Instant Check System that is now in place. The Hansons have essentially been denied the ability to legally purchase a handgun from a licensed retailer because of this prohibition.”

The District of Columbia has no federally-licensed firearm retailers who maintain an inventory for sale to the public, according to the petition. If D.C. residents wish to purchase a handgun out of state, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban requires them to use the lone District-based FFL, who charges a $125 transfer fee.

SEE ALSO: ‘Repeal the Second Amendment,’ Says Former Supreme Court Justice

The Hansons wanted to avoid the fee by purchasing handguns in Texas and, following both Texas and D.C. law, transport their new firearms into the District. But they knew that federal law prohibits such an action, so they filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. They challenged the federal interstate handgun transfer ban on its face and as-applied to them on Second Amendment and Fifth Amendment equal protection grounds.

The case worked its way to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a panel of which reversed an earlier federal court decision that found the interstate handgun transfer ban facially unconstitutional. The Fifth Circuit declined to hear the case en banc, and the CCRKBA is now appealing to the highest court in the land.

Gottlieb is hoping this case will finally force the Supreme Court to compel the lower courts to enforce the Second Amendment as interpreted in the Heller decision.

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court Rejects 3-D Printed Gun Case

“But our case goes to the heart of what appears to be a reluctance in the lower courts to enforce the Second Amendment even now, more than ten years after the landmark Heller ruling and eight years after the McDonald ruling,” he said. “This continuing problem is mentioned in our petition to the high court.”

“After all,” Gottlieb continued, “if a citizen is law-abiding in his home state, he or she is going to be law-abiding in a different state where they might find a firearm they want to buy, but the interstate sales ban prevents that. Citizens can purchase all sorts of other goods across state lines, but why not the one tool that is specifically mentioned and protected by the Constitution’s Second Amendment? That simply defies logic and common sense.”

Funding support for this lawsuit is provided by the Second Amendment Foundation, which is CCRKBA’s sister organization and specializes in education and litigation.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • M.Muurfin November 30, 2018, 2:38 pm

    What about CCW reciprocity for all states … it’s not right that citizens lawfully approved to carry in one state can’t go on vacation or travel without worry of arrest ,detaining or in some cases prosecution for what should be legal and or an individual RIGHT under our second amendment!!!

  • Tj November 30, 2018, 7:17 am

    the federal interstate handgun transfer ban requires them to use the lone District-based FFL, who charges a $125 transfer fee.

    If there where more FFL’s then it would only cost $25 like where I live.

    I don’t know if being allowed to buy from another state without a transfer is the best solution or not.

    TJ

    • Ric Hoyt November 30, 2018, 8:48 am

      They are purchasing it in Texas, where they pass a background check. Then, rather than having to have it shipped to the FFL in DC, they would legally either fly or drive it back to DC to avoid the $125 transfer fee. The background check you pass in Texas is the exact same regardless of your location. Why should the government be allowed to infringe on your ability to transport a firearm?

      Had the same issue moving to NY with my pistols. Local county clerks couldn’t understand, as an airline pilot, I could just go to Oklahoma and bring them back on a plane (checked bags) vs. paying to transfer to an FFL in NY, at $35 plus shipping for each, I said no thanks. Local LEOs ran serial number checks on each one and I was good to go. Just took almost a year to get the NY permit and my guns were in exile for a while.

      • Stan d. Upnow November 30, 2018, 11:42 am

        Doesn’t work that way. Unless you were a legal resident of TX, you could not purchase a gun from a dealer and walk. Therefore, no NCIS check would be done there. Sure, you could purchase the gun from a TX dealer, but it would have to be shipped to an FFL where you reside(provided state/local laws allowed it). The receiving dealer would have you fill-out the 4473 form and do the background check. Pay the transfer fee & check fee and you’re good to go.

      • Area 52 December 4, 2018, 6:38 pm

        That idea won’t work. Federal law prohibits buying a handgun outside your state of residency. If someone wanted to buy a handgun outside their own state, a dealer in the state the seller is located has to ship it to dealer in the buyer’s home state. One can buy long guns out of state however I do know some dealers in my state that won’t sell anything to NJ or NY residents due to their gun laws. I suspect they would have a problem selling to someone from DC.

  • Frankie Ammo November 29, 2018, 4:35 pm

    I’m a peace officer in one state, but live in a neighboring state. I couldn’t buy a sidearm in the state where I was appointed, but had to purchase one, as a civilian, in the state where I live. How absurd is that?

    • Scotty Gunn December 1, 2018, 4:38 pm

      Well, you are a civilian. Period.

    • Area 52 December 4, 2018, 6:42 pm

      If you are by definition a “police Officer” you can buy a handgun out of state using a department letter head and having it signed by a supervisor. The gun will be in your name not the department’s. Many police supply merchants have a pre printed letterhead to use on their website.

  • Uncle dave November 28, 2018, 9:06 am

    Commerce clause? Interfering with inter state commerce!

    • DIYinSTL November 30, 2018, 11:44 am

      Yes, Commerce clause. Except just the opposite of what you suggest. The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” I would expect that SCOTUS would uphold the ban based on this broadly recognized constitutional power. To overturn the restriction would tug at a thread of the fabric that envelops most of the Federal government’s present authority and omnipresence. I’m not happy with the restriction and think it is stupid, but it is most likely legitimate. California’s ban on bringing home or mail ordering ammunition would be a better target. Best of luck and godspeed, Alan.

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