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Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban Struck Down by Judge

February 13, 2015

Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban
Struck Down by Judge

 

This week a federal judge in Texas struck down the 1968 Gun Control Act's federal interstate handgun transfer ban as unconstitutional under both the Second Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. This law applies only to handguns and prohibits a resident of one state from purchasing a handgun in another state without first transferring the firearm to an FFL in the person's state of residence to complete the sale.

Plaintiffs filed suit after a D.C.-based couple sought to purchase two handguns while in Texas, but would have been forced to pay the only D.C-based FFL a $125 transfer fee in order to complete the sale. In addressing plaintiffs' Second Amendment challenge the judge applied the exacting standard of strict scrutiny to find that there was no "founding-era thinking" that could be relied upon to support a residency-based firearm restriction such as exists with the ban.  This finding, coupled with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which did not exist at the time the ban was enacted, and the failure of the Department of Justice to provide the court with data to show the ban is narrowly tailored to meet the Government's interest in reducing crime, allowed the court to hold the ban violates the Second Amendment. The court also found the ban violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment because it "creates a discriminatory regime based on residency" that interferes with the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

NSSF expects the Department of Justice to seek a stay of the court's order while it appeals the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals We caution all retailers not to transfer handguns to out of state residents based on this ruling at this time. If you have any questions on the effect of this ruling please consult your attorney or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for guidance. NSSF will seek to file an amicus brief on behalf of all retailers in support of this ruling and will keep you apprised of any updates as this case makes its way through the appellate process.

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