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

Heller II Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Appellants U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

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

On July 30, 2010, in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, our firm filed the only amicus curiae brief filed in support of the challenge by appellant Dick Heller and others to portions of the D.C. Code that (i) require registration of all firearms, (ii) prohibit registration of so-called “assault weapons” and (iii) prohibit possession of so-called “high capacity” magazines.

Our brief argues that the District Court erred when it upheld the District’s laws employing “intermediate scrutiny” – a judicially created standard of review that permits laws that are “reasonably related to an important government interest.” Our brief demonstrates that the Supreme Court has rejected such “interest balancing” standards of review in both the Heller Iand McDonald cases. Instead, once a court determines that a person is part of “the people” and that the weapon is one of the “arms” protected by the Second Amendment, the amendment provides its own standard of review — “shall not be infringed.” Read More

Herb Titus Presents Oral Argument to U.S. District Court, Montana in Montana Shooting Sports Association v. Holder

Michael Harless Firearms Law

A number of states have enacted firearms freedom act statutes seeking to regulate intra-state sales of firearms, over which the federal government has no authority.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has threatened to go after any party which manufactures or sells a firearm without complying with the federal licensing scheme.

The first state firearms freedom law that has gone to federal court is Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act, and, on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., we were invited to be among the three counsel to argue in district court on behalf of the plaintiff Montana Shooting Sports Association (“MSSA”). Read More

MSSA v. Holder, Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. District Court, District of Montana

Today our firm filed an amicus brief for Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., and Virginia Citizens Defense League in the case of Montana Shooting Sports Association, Inc., et al. v. Eric H. Holder, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

Link to brief

 

U.S. v. Steven M. Skoien Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation and Gun Owners of America, Inc. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief for Gun Owners Foundation (“GOF”) and Gun Owners of America, Inc. in the case of U.S. v. Skoien, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

This document compares quotes from the GOF amicus brief with quotes from the NRA amicus brief, which were both filed in the Skoien case —http://www.gunowners.com/gof-vs-nra-quotes.pdf.

Link to brief Read More

Otis McDonald v. City of Chicago Amicus Brief in Support of Petitioners U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On November 23, 2009, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of petitioners’ challenge to an ordinance banning handguns in Chicago. The amicus brief argues that the Chicago handgun ban unconstitutionally abridges petitioners’ right to keep and bear arms, a privilege or immunity belonging to them as United States citizens protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. It also explains that no wholesale change in the Supreme Court’s Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence is required to rule that the Chicago ordinance unconstitutionally abridges petitioners’ right to keep and bear arms. Further, it asserts that incorporation of the right to keep and bear arms into the Due Process Clause would result in weak and potentially transitory protection of that right. Read More

David R. Olofson — Petition for Certiorari filed

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

Today, our firm filed a Petition for Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of Army Reservist David Olofson, urging the Court to grant Certiorari to review the Seventh Circuit decision affirming Olofson’s conviction. The Petition was docketed on August 31, 2009. Amicus briefs are due by September 30, 2009.

Olofson was sentenced to prison for 30 months for transferring a “machine gun” — which really was a lawful-to-own, semi-automatic AR-15 rifle which occasionally manifested a “hammer-follow” malfunction, resulting in short bursts followed by jamming. Read More

McDonald v. City of Chicago NRA v. City of Chicago Amicus Brief in Support of Petitions for a Writ of Certiorari U.S. Supreme Court

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation in support of petitioners’ request for a writ of certiorari. These cases involve challenges to City of Chicago and Village of Oak Park bans on handguns. At issue is whether the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms against the States. The amicus brief urges that the petitions present an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by the Supreme Court. It also argues that the Chicago and Oak Park handgun bans abridge one of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States — the right to keep and bear arms — in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Read More

BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney’s Guide

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law, Publications

On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, our firm authored “BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney’s Guide” on July 4, 2007. The guide is intended to provide a procedural overview for attorneys unfamiliar with civil forfeiture law as it applies to firearms, including what to expect from the BATF, and how to go about recovering seized assets.
This manual has been revised as of January 30, 2009. Read More

Olofson Case — Oral Argument

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

On January 22, 2009, Herb Titus presented oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in support of David Olofson’s appeal from having been wrongfully convicted of transfering a machinegun.  At the heart of the Olofson appeal, Titus contended, is that the Government pressed a wrongful definition of a machinegun in order to secure Olofson’s conviction.  According to the government’s definition, Olofson’s malfunctioning semiautomatic rifle functioned as a machinegun because it fired more than one shot at the single pull of a trigger, even though it jammed before the trigger was released or the ammunition in the magazine was exhausted.  The government’s position, Titus argued, is contrary to fact, contrary to law, and in conflict with Supreme Court Seventh Circuit precedent.  Indeed, according to the briefs filed by the firm, Olofson’s prosecutor adopted a definition of a machinegun inconsistent with prior ATF rulings and guidelines. Read More

Akins v. United States, 11th Circuit Another Brief Contesting ATF’s Definition of a “Machinegun”

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

On November 26, 2008, the firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in support of Bill Akins.  Akins is the inventor of the Akins Accelerator — a patented replacement stock of a semiautomatic firearm that through controlled “bump firing” increases the rate of fire, after an initial trigger pull, by multiple functions of the trigger controlled by the shooter’s well-placed trigger finger. Read More

Gun Owners Foundation Amicus Brief Filed in United States v. Hayes U.S. Supreme Court

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

On September 26, 2008, we filed on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation an amicus brief in United States v. Hayes.  The GOF brief urged the Supreme Court to affirm a Fourth Circuit court of appeals ruling that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, an individual does not lose the right to own a gun unless the prosecutor in the misdemeanor case  proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the misdemeanor event was, in fact, a domestic one. Read More

U.S. v. Ramos/Compean Amicus Brief in Support of Petition for Rehearing U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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

We filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of two former Border Patrol agents’ Petitions for Rehearing. This brief emphasized areas where the Fifth Circuit panel’s decision was inconsistent with the law as set forth in our earlier brief filed with the court on May 25, 2007.

Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Congressmen Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Virgil H. Goode, Jr. (R-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX), Gun Owners Foundation, U.S. Border Control Foundation, U.S. Border Control, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

Gun Owners of America/Gun Owners Foundation Comments to the U.S. Postal Service Regarding “Proposed New Standards Prohibit the Mailing of Replica or Inert Munitions”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law, Postal Law

Today, on behalf of Gun Owners of American and Gun Owners Foundation, we filed comments opposing the United States Postal Service’s “Proposed New Standards Prohibit the Mailing of Replica or Inert Munitions.”  (See 73 Fed. Reg. 12321.)  The new rule proposes to declare nonmailable “[r]eplica or inert munitions.”

The comments demonstrate that the proposed standard is unauthorized by law, and violative of the Postal Service’s Universal Service Obligation.  Additionally, the comments show how the proposed new rule is vague and, as a consequence, could include all sorts of unintended items. Read More

District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc., et. al.

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in the D.C. gun ban case, District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller, No. 07-290. The brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of California, Inc., Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

Ramos/Compean Amicus Oral Argument

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

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral argument today in the Ramos/Compean appeal.  Our local counsel, Mark Brewer, was in attendance and sat at counsel table with the attorneys for appellants Ramos and Compean.

The three-judge panel consisted of Judges E. Grady Jolly, Patrick E. Higgenbotham, and Edward C. Prado.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Stelmach argued on behalf of the United States, Robert Baskett appeared for defendant Compean, andDavid Botsford appeared for defendant Ramos. Read More

State of Wyoming v. BATF Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation in the Tenth Circuit

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

Today we filed a Brief Amicus Curiae for Gun Owners Foundation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in support of the State of Wyoming and Wyoming Attorney General Patrick J. Crank.  The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (“BATF”) argued that Wyoming  Stat. Ann. § 7-13-1502(k), which provides for the expungement with regards to restoring firearms rights to a person convicted of the misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (“MCDV”), (a) is insufficient as an exemption from the NICS background check and (b) does not authorize the person eligible to purchase a firearm. Read More

Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) Statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing to Examine the Prosecution of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law

Congressman Walter Jones submitted a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging the Committee to use its power and influence to persuade the President to pardon Ramos and Compean, two border patrol agents wrongfully convicted of a crime that does not exist.  In support of his plea, Mr. Jones cited the amicus brief filed by this firm on his behalf and others in support of the agents’ appeal in the Fifth Circuit.  At the heart of Jones’ appeal to the Committee was the contention in our amicus brief “that no person should stand charged with, and convicted of, a crime that was never defined by Congress.  Indeed, in our system of separation of powers, the rule of law demands that prosecutors enforce the law as Congress has defined it, not as the prosecution would like it to be.” Read More