Politics

Federal Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban Ruled Unconstitutional By Judge

| by Kathryn Schroeder
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The ban on interstate sales of handguns by federal firearms dealers to purchasers from other states was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Tuesday.

The ruling was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in the case of Mance v. Holder, reports Reason.com.

"The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unique compared to other firearms restrictions because it does not target certain people (such as felons or the mentally ill), conduct (such as carrying firearms into government buildings or schools), or distinctions among certain classes of firearms (such as fully automatic weapons or magazine capacity). Instead," Judge O’Connor wrote, "the federal interstate handgun transfer ban targets the entire national market of handgun sales and directly burdens law-abiding, responsible citizens who seek to complete otherwise lawful transactions for handguns."

The case stemmed from an incident where Andrew and Tracey Hanson wanted to purchase two handguns from licensed firearms dealer Fredric Mance Jr. in Texas but did not complete the transaction because they could not take possession of the weapons immediately.

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Mance was required by federal law to transfer the handguns to a federally licensed dealer where the Hansons live in Charles Sykes, District of Columbia, and then they could complete the purchase after paying shipping and transfer fees.

The Hansons and Mance, both members of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, argued in the lawsuit that their second amendment rights were being infringed upon by the ban.

Judge O’Connor agreed.

O’Connor ruled that the ban violated the second and fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, reports Yahoo News.

"As law abiding, responsible citizens, the Hansons likely do not pose the threat to public safety that motivated Congress to enact the federal interstate handgun transfer ban," O'Connor wrote in his decision.

O’Connor noted in his ruling that the Obama administration has “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. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face."

The attorney for both parties expects an appeal by the government.

"While we expect the government to appeal, we are confident that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will agree with Judge O'Connor's sound ruling," attorney William Mateja said.

In the case of an appeal, one sign of hope for second amendment advocates is that O’Connor used the legal standard known as “strict scrutiny” when reviewing the federal ban. Strict scrutiny is the most exacting level of judicial review possible in constitutional cases and is reserved for disputes where a “fundamental” right is considered to be at stake.

Sources: Yahoo News, Reason.com / Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons, Ken/Flickr