Federal Interstate Handgun Sales Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

In another excellent victory for civil rights by attorney Alan Gura, United States District Court Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the federal interstate handgun sales ban earlier today, finding it unconstitutional (both facially and as-applied) under the Second Amendment and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

As the Court explained, “[t]o prevail on a facial challenge, Plaintiffs must show that either no set of circumstances exists under which the law would be valid or that the statute lacks any plainly legitimate sweep.” That high bar was met by the Plaintiffs’ legal team. The decision explained that “Defendants [United States Attorney General Eric Holder and BATFE director B. Todd Jones] fail[ed] to provide reasonably current figures to show the federal interstate handgun sale ban is narrowly tailored.”

Even though the Court found that strict scrutiny was the proper standard of review for the type of burden on Constitutionally-protected conduct imposed by the challenged laws (18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3), 18 U.S.C. § 922 (b)(3), and 27 C.F.R. § 478.99(a)), it also noted that the law failed even the relatively-deferential intermediate scrutiny test.

The United States, the Court held, has been enforcing “a regime that is not substantially related to the Government’s stated goal” [of public safety]. Even under intermediate scrutiny, “there must be an indication that the regulation will alleviate the asserted harm to a material degree.” But “Defendants [] failed to carry their burden to show how the federal interstate handgun transfer ban alleviates, in a material way, the problem of prohibited persons obtaining handguns simply by crossing state lines and depriving states of notice that they have under the amended version of the 1968 Gun Control Act.” Accordingly, the laws were declared unconstitutional and enjoined from enforcement.

The lawsuit, captioned Fredric Russell Mance, Jr. et al. v. Eric H. Holder, Jr. and B. Todd Jones, was backed by Citizens’ Commitee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, one of the Bellevue, WA-based civil rights groups led by Alan Gottlieb. CCRKBA was also a plaintiff in the case, which will likely be appealed by the government to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Mance trial court docket can be viewed here.

Mance v. Holder Judgment