Grace v. District of Columbia

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

Today, we filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of a challenge to the D.C. Concealed Carry statute which was brought by Matthew Grace and others.  Our brief argues that the District of Columbia Council based its argument on the notion of hidden exceptions to the Bill of Rights, and a flawed understanding of the difference between the restricted nature of firearms rights in England versus the unrestricted nature of firearms rights in the Colonies.  Our brief also argues that it is illegitimate for the Court to engage in judicial balancing tests of any type, as they were barred by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Lastly, we argued that the government does not have the authority to make predictive judgments as to who may violate the law and restrict liberties to prevent crimes that it fears may someday occur. Read More

Comments: Gun Owners of America & Gun Owners Foundation File Comments Opposing Social Security Administration Efforts to Disarm the Disabled

Michael Harless Administrative Law

Today our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation opposing proposed regulations issued by the Obama Social Security Administration to add more names to the NICS system which would prevent many persons with disabilities from buying firearms.

Our comments explain how the Social Security Administration proposal goes well beyond the limitation that firearm ownership is barred to anyone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective.”  Here, there is no adjudication — but merely a box being checked by a bureaucrat or government contractor.  And, there is no determination in no way relates to  being a “mental defective.”  Lastly, the SSA regulations are at odds with the views of federal courts which have considered the question. Read More

Wrenn v. District of Columbia

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in support of a challenge to the District of Columbia’s requirement that a person must demonstrate a “good reason” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  Our brief noted that before Heller, the federal courts perpetuated the charade that the right of “the People” was a collective rather than an individual right.  Now, we argued, the lower courts are perpetuating a new charade — that rights which “shall not be infringed” can indeed be infringed so long as the government strongly desires to do so, and judges believe the regulations are reasonable.  Our brief argued that use of such “interest-balancing” tests permits judges to come to whatever result they prefer, as this case uniquely indicates. Read More

Hamilton v. Pallozzi

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit supporting the right of a Maryland resident to purchase and possess firearms despite a prior conviction. Hamilton had been convicted of a non-violent felony in Virginia and served his sentence. Later, Virginia restored his civil rights, and then a Virginia Court specifically restored his firearms rights.

Now living in Maryland, Hamilton has been told that Maryland will not recognize the restoration of his firearms rights by a Virginia Court.  Our brief explains that under the U.S. Constitution’s “Full Faith & Credit Clause,” Maryland may not refuse to give recognition to the Virginia court’s restoration of rights, and argument that had not been made by Hamilton. Read More

Colorado Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court as to Some Colorado Gun Restrictions

Michael Harless Litigation

Our firm has been pleased to be co-counsel on a state constitutional challenge to the 2013 Colorado firearms gun control laws restricting possession of “high capacity” magazines and requiring background checks for private sales.  The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that we were entitled to a hearing on the magazine issue, but affirmed the background check issue.  Notably, one of the judges filed an important dissent.  Judge Graham’s opinion adopted our arguments that the Second Amendment is to be analyzed by a “text, history, tradition” analysis, not according to interest balancing tests such as in a pre-Heller Colorado case that used a “reasonableness” analysis. Read More

Voisine v. United States

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we made our 10th filing in 10 years opposing various applications of what is known as the so-called “Lautenberg Amendment,” which purports to impose a lifetime ban on firearms ownership on those who commit certain misdemeanors. The anti-gun lobby seeks to strip gun ownership from as many persons as possible, even if the misdemeanor was a minor matter, involving neither firearms nor violence. Read More

Hollis v. Lynch — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the federal machine gun ban, ironically passed as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act.

Under the Gun Control Act (“GCA”), “persons” are generally prohibited from possessing machineguns. A “person” is defined to include entities such a corporation and partnership – but the definition does not include a trust. Moreover, in 2014, ATF took the position that “unincorporated trusts are not ‘persons’ under the GCA.” Based on that understanding that trusts are not persons, the Jay Aubrey Isaac Hollis Revocable Living Trust applied to the ATF for approval to manufacture and register an M-16 machinegun. When ATF eventually revoked the application, the Trust sued, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed the case. Read More

United States v. Robert G. Arwady and Richard P. Medrano
Verdict in — Both defendants Not Guilty on all counts

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Litigation, U. S. District Court, Southern District of Texas

Rob Olson has called in to report that after two hours of deliberation, the jury has come back with a Not Guilty verdict on all counts.

Bob Arwardy and Richard Medrano were accused of participating in a “straw purchase” of firearms on February 27, 2014 and other firearms offenses in an eight count indictment.   After significant motions practice, including work by both Rob Olson and Herb Titus of our firm, the government dropped six of the eight counts, pressing the other two counts against both defendants.  Obviously, the jury was not persuaded.  This case required four trips to Houston, Texas by Rob Olson, for motions practice, trial preparation, pretrial, and trial. Read More

Gun Owners of America — Comments Filed With State Department Opposing New ITAR Regulations

Michael Harless Firearms Law

Today, our firm filed comments with the U.S. Department of State, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy, on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, regarding proposed revisions to the State Department’s International Traffic In Arms Regulations (“ITAR”).  Pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, the State Department regulates the export of “defense articles and services.”  Typically, these regulations apply to businesses which manufacture weapons of war such as tanks and bombs, and there generally was no need for ordinary Americans to worry about this incredibly complex and convoluted area of the law. Read More

Silvester v. Harris — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in support of a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. One of the most draconian states when it comes to Second Amendment rights, California forces its residents to wait 10 days after a purchase before a lawful buyer may acquire a lawful firearm.

First, our brief dispelled the notion that California’s waiting period is “presumptively lawful” under Heller as a “condition on commercial sales of arms.” Second, our brief showed that waiting periods for firearm purchases do not fall within any of Heller’s “presumptively lawful” categories of regulations. Finally, our brief argued that, while the district court below correctly determined that the waiting period is unconstitutional, it did so for the wrong reasons. The district court based its decision not on the text and context of the Second Amendment, but on the same type of judicially-devised interest balancing test that the Supreme Court rejected in Heller. Read More

Peruta v. San Diego, Richards v. County of Yolo — Amicus Brief

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

Today our firm filed a brief supporting the right to “bear” arms in California. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit previously handed down an opinion striking down San Diego County’s policy under which “self-defense” was not considered to be a “good cause” allowing the issuance of a concealed carry permit. Now, the Ninth Circuit decided to re-hear the case en banc. The Peruta case was consolidated with another case, Richards v. County of Yolo, which challenged Yolo County’s “good cause” policy. Our brief addressed issues in both cases. Read More

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper — Brief filed

Michael Harless Colorado Court of Appeals, Firearms Law, Litigation

On March12, 2015, our firm joined with co-counsel with Barry K. Arrington, Esquire of Centennial, Colorado, and filed in the Colorado Court of Appeals a brief challenging the constitutionality of the recent 2013 Colorado laws banning so-called “large capacity” magazines and requiring criminal background checks for all private transfers of firearms.

In 2013, representing the National Association for Gun Rights and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, our firm challenged Colorado’s recent gun control laws in a Denver court. This suit was based exclusively on violations of the Colorado State Constitution. Interestingly, the Colorado Constitution is stronger even than the U.S. Constitution in defending gun rights. In two recent cases, Colorado courts had upheld gun rights that have been denied in the federal courts. Nevertheless, the district court dismissed the case without a hearing, not allowing us to present evidence of the flaws in the statue, nor the state’s rich history of promoting and protecting gun rights. We took an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Read More

Jackson v. City & County of San Francisco — Amicus Brief

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 challenge to San Francisco’s gun storage and ammunition ordinances.

This decision comes as the latest in a long string of decisions wherein the lower federal courts simply have refused to implement the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller. As our amicus brief explains, the lower federal courts are in a state of open rebellion in the lower courts against Heller. Our amicus brief documents the lawless behavior of the lower federal courts, and urges the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari. Read More