Drake v. Jerejian — Amicus Brief challenging New Jersey’s Concealed Carry Laws

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

In New Jersey, it is a crime to possess a firearm unless you can prove that you fit within one or more tightly-drawn statutory exemptions. One exemption allows a person to have a handgun on his own property, but he may not step one foot beyond unless the gun is fully disabled and he is heading to an approved destination.

New Jersey carry permits are like honest politicians — they are rumored to exist, but few have ever actually seen one. As one State legislator observed: “It is virtually never done.” An ordinary person may be granted a permit only if he can prove to the satisfaction of a judge that his life is in grave danger. Certain members of the privileged class of government workers are permitted to carry firearms; they need only prove that they are currently or were formerly employed in law enforcement. Read More

Quinn v. Texas Brief Filed Opposing No-Knock Home Raids

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Every day we read about SWAT teams serving arrest warrants or search warrants at people’s homes, using no-knock raids in the middle of the night. Many of these police home invasions go wrong, with innocent people being shot, and sometimes killed, just because they were trying to defend themselves.  Even criminals have learned to claim that they are the police while breaking into homes, to discourage resistance. Read More

United States v. James Alvin Castleman Amicus Brief in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On December 23, 2013, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Castleman, in support of the grant of a petition for certiorari. This case involves the meaning of the term “physical force” contained in the federal law defining misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (“MCDV”), popularly known as the Lautenberg Amendment

Passed in 1996, the Lautenberg Amendment makes it a federal crime for a person to acquire or possess a firearm after he has been convicted of a MCDV. An MCDV is defined as a crime that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.” Read More

Comments to ATF on NFA Weapons

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today, our firm submitted comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) opposing an ATF Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

ATF’s proposed rule PR would change the requirements for applications to make or transfer certain National Firearms Act firearms and devices. Many CLEOs are opposed to an armed citizenry and, for that reason alone, simply refuse to sign NFA paperwork for any persons in their jurisdiction. However, under current rules, a person can still obtain an NFA weapon by using a trust or corporation. Under proposed rulemaking, though, the Obama ATF would require trusts and corporations to submit photographs, fingerprints and chief law enforcement (“CLEO”) approval for every “responsible person” connected with the trust or corporation. Read More

Bruce James Abramski v. US — Amicus Brief in the United States Supreme Court (on the Merits)

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Abramski v. United States, in a case challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) definition of what constitutes an illegal “straw purchase” of a firearm. This case involves one of the greatest instances of regulatory and prosecutorial abuse that we have ever seen.

The concept of a “straw purchase” is a “doctrine” created by ATF and the courts, rather than a “crime” enacted by Congress. Indeed, as pointed out in our brief, in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, Senators Leahy and Schumer introduced a bill (that was not enacted) to outlaw straw purchases. If straw purchases were already illegal, then there would have been no need for such a bill to be introduced. Read More

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners et al. v. John C. Hickenlooper Complaint in the District Court, City and County of Denver, Colorado

Michael Harless District Court, City and County of Denver, Colorado, Firearms Law, Litigation

Today a complaint was filed in the case of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners,et al. v. John C. Hickenlooper in the District Court, City and County of Denver, Colorado on behalf of plaintiffs Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, National Association for Gun Rights, Inc., John A. Sternberg, and DV-S,LLC, d/b/a Alpine Arms. This case is a constitutional challenge of two Colorado firearm laws, HB 1229 and HB 1224. Our firm is serving as of counsel to the plaintiffs. Read More

National Rifle Association, et al. v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, et al. Amicus Brief for The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of a petition for certiorari filed by the National Rifle Association, challenging the federal prohibition against the purchase of firearms by 18-20 year olds.

Our brief noted that in the five years since Heller was decided, the lower courts have refused to follow the Heller framework for deciding cases based on the text and context of the Second Amendment. Instead, the courts have continued to employ judicial interest-balancing tests, an approach which the Heller Court specifically rejected. Read More

Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al. Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a petition for certiorari challenging Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement for those who apply for a concealed carry permit.

Since Heller, which involved the “keeping” of a handgun within the home, most lower federal courts have been unwilling to give Second Amendment rights significant application outside the home. Unfortunately, most judges serving on the lower federal courts have exhibited a continuing visceral hostility to firearms, the Second Amendment, and the Heller decision. Read More

Rosemond v. United States Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Justus Cornelius Rosemond v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner. Our amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to examine the question raised in this case in light of the recently decided case of Alleynev. United States’ new interpretation of Section 924(c)(1)(A), defining three firearms offenses instead of only one. If the Government’s theory of aiding and abetting is affirmed in this case, it will unwisely and unnecessarily expand prosecutorial discretion in the administration of the mandatory minimum sentence structure of Section 924(c)(1)(A) and undermine the role of the jury envisioned in Alleyne. Read More

Abramski v. United States Amicus Brief for Congressman Steve Stockman, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Bruce James Abramski, Jr. v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner. Our amicus brief argues that the petition should be granted because it raises compelling concerns about the administration of the national instant background check system that have not been, but should be, settled by the Supreme Court. The ATF “straw purchase” doctrine upon which Abramski’s conviction rests conflicts with both statute and regulation. The ATF Form 4473’s question 11.a. and instructions are misleading and confusing, creating a trap for the unwary. The Form 4473 distinction between a third party gift and a third party purchase is arbitrary and capricious. Finally, Congress has not enacted any law authorizing the prevention of straw purchases of firearms from licensed firearm dealers and has thus far declined to enact the ATF “straw purchase” doctrine into law. Read More

United States v. Reese Brief of Appellees in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

On July 11, 2013, our firm filed an appellees’ brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on behalf of three individuals in a family-owned Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) located in Deming, New Mexico.

Four members of the Reese family had been acquitted by the jury of all but four counts of a 30-count indictment. Then, nearly four months after the trial was over, the Government filed a sealed ex parte motion revealing to the court that, after trial, the government lawyers who tried the case were made aware of evidence that was potentially favorable to the defendants to impeach the credibility of one of the government’s key witnesses. By this motion, the Government asked for a ruling, without an adversarial hearing, that it had not violated its constitutional duty to disclose potential impeachment evidence. The trial judge refused, ordering the Government to turn the evidence over to the defense. Read More

GOF v. ATF Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Open America Stay in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Michael Harless Firearms Law, FOIA Law, Litigation, U. S. District Court, District of Columbia

Today our firm filed Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Open America Stay in the case ofGun Owners Foundation v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on behalf of plaintiff Gun Owners Foundation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Link to memorandum

Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation Comments to ATF on “Requests to Exempt Certain Projectiles from Regulation as ‘Armor Piercing’ Ammunition”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today our firm filed comments with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation pursuant to the ATF request for comments on the use of the “sporting purposes” exemption for “certain projectiles from regulation as ‘armor piercing’ ammunition.”

These comments were filed because “GOA and GOF believe that ATF’s past interpretations of Section 921(a)(17) have been erroneous, and are contrary to the clear intent of Congress. Thus, ATF’s understanding of what constitutes AP ammunition should be revised.” Read More

Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al. Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of plaintiffs-appellees and affirmance.

This case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the State of Maryland’s handgun permit statute and regulatory scheme. Maryland requires an applicant for a license to carry a handgun to demonstrate that he has “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun. Plaintiff Woollard previously had been granted a handgun carry permit. Unable to produce evidence of a current threat, Woollard’s request for a renewal of the permit was denied. Woollard and an association of gun owners, Second Amendment Foundation, challenged the Maryland license requirement, arguing that the “good and substantial reason” requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” Read More

GOF v. ATF Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Michael Harless Firearms Law, FOIA Law, Litigation, U. S. District Court, District of Columbia

Today our firm filed Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings in the case of Gun Owners Foundation v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on behalf of plaintiff Gun Owners Foundation in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. We filed the motion because the Government failed to respond to GOF’s FOIA request for 15 months, until this suit was filed, and then admitted it had asserted no specific exemptions. Read More

Gun Owners Foundation Files Suit to Obtain ATF Fast & Furious Records

Michael Harless Firearms Law, FOIA Law, Litigation, U. S. District Court, District of Columbia

On June 6, 2012, on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, our firm filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit stemmed from an April, 2011 Freedom of Information Act request in which GOF sought records pertaining to the infamous “Fast and Furious” and program where ATF federal agents deliberately and incomprehensibly put firearms directly into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Read More

Delroy Fischer v. United States — Reply Brief for Petitioner

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed reply brief for petitioner in the case of Delroy Fischerv. United States of America in the United States Supreme Court. In this case, petitioner Fischer is asking the Supreme Court to resolve a circuit split over the question whether the use of force element of the predicate misdemeanor in a section 922(g)(9) prosecution is determined by factual findings found in the state court record, or by the text of the relevant misdemeanor statute. Read More

Delroy Fischer v. United States — Petition for Writ of Certiorari

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the case of Delroy Fischer v. United States of America in the United States Supreme Court. In this case, petitioner Fischer is asking the Supreme Court to resolve a circuit split over the question whether the use of force element of the predicate misdemeanor in a section 922(g)(9) prosecution is determined by factual findings found in the state court record, or by the text of the relevant misdemeanor statute. Read More

Delroy Fischer v. United States Appellant’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

Today our firm filed appellant’s petition for rehearing en banc in the case of Delroy Fischer v. United States of America in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Appellant, Delroy Fischer, was indicted under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)1 for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Our petition argues that Fischer, and Amerson before it, were wrongly decided and the Fischer panel decision conflicts with two of the Eighth Circuit’s prior opinions and with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Hayes. Read More

MSSA v. Holder, Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today our firm filed an amicus brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, and Virginia Citizens Defense League in the case ofMontana Shooting Sports Association, et al. v. Eric H. Holder, Jr. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of reversal. We previously filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana Missoula Division on April 12, 2010. Read More

Smith v. Virginia Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation in the Supreme Court of VIrginia

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Virginia Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Russell Ernest Smith v. Commonwealth of Virginia in the Supreme Court of Virginia on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation in support of appellant Smith. The issue in this case was whether Smith “willfully and intentionally” made a false statement (on a Form 4473) that he was not under indictment, when in fact he had been indicted two days before but did not know it. Read More

Skoien v. U.S., Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation et al. in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners of California, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund in the case of Steven Skoien v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner Skoien.

Our brief takes a quite different approach from that taken by other firearms organizations. For example, the attached chart contrasts the positions taken in our brief with the positions taken by the NRA. Read More

Nordyke v. King Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Appellants U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief filed in support of the challenge by appellants to portions of the county code of Alameda County, California. The challenged provisions ban possession of firearms on county property.

The ordinance was introduced by a county Supervisor who, in her own words, wanted to “ban gun shows.” The county claims it was responding to gun violence, but the reality is that the county was simply trying to keep peaceful gun owners from gathering to buy and sell firearms. Read More