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

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.” 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

Congressman Walter B. Jones Statement on the Floor U.S. House of Representatives

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law

On June 18, 2007, Congressman Walter Jones addressed the U.S. House of Representatives about the Ramos and Compean case.  He explained the issues raised in the amicus brief we recently filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Congressman Jones explained  how the agents were convicted of a crime which Congress never enacted into law.  The Congressman has asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the matter and to ensure that justice be done. Read More

U.S. v. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean Amicus Brief for Congressman Walter Jones, et al. 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)

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

Today we filed a Brief Amicus Curiae in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit supporting the appeal of Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean.  Counts four and five of the indictment charge the two with “Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence,” under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c), which the Supreme Court has ruled is only a sentencing factor, not one of the three elements — “using,” “carrying,” or “possessing” a firearm.  See Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002). Read More

Strict Construction of Federal Criminal Laws U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief Watson v. United States

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

On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Watson v. United States.  This brief asks the Court to overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and to re-establish the common law rule of strict construction of criminal statutes.  In this case, an undercover agent sought to buy drugs from Watson, and offered a firearm as part of the purchase price.  The federal government indicted Watson for not only the drug sale, but also for the “use” of a firearm in connection with a federal drug trafficking crime, which would greatly increase the sentence if convicted.  Clearly, in the normal sense of the word, receiving a gun is not “using” a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime, but the Fifth Circuit interpreted the word “use” broadly to encompass receipt.  Had the rule of strict construction been applied to this case, and “use” interpreted in its normal sense, Mr. Watson would not be faced with a mandatory additional minimum prison sentence of five years under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c).  Our amicus brief also asks the Court to reject the modern “rule of lenity” that has proved to be no substitute for strict construction.  Strict construction of federal criminal law is necessary to preserve constitutional separation of powers, as well as principles of federalism.  Our amicus brief illustrates how allowing police and prosecutors to go beyond the words of the statute to define a crime opens up opportunities for abuse. Read More