ACRU: D.C. Gun Transfer Law Violates Second Amendment by Burdening the Sale of Goods or Services


ACRU Staff


July 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 11, 2013)—The District of Columbia’s law requiring residents who purchase out-of-state guns to go through an expensive middleman to get a transfer permit violates the Second Amendment, according to a brief filed on July 1 at the U.S. Supreme Court by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU).

Although the Court’s 2008 ruling in the Heller case overturned the District’s ban on handgun possession, the city has another law that requires people who want to buy guns out of state to transfer them through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FLFD). Since the District has no retail gun stores, anyone who wants to buy a gun must buy elsewhere and then get a permit through the FLFD, of which the District has only one and who charges $125 per transfer.

District resident Michelle Lane had ordered two handguns from a Virginia gun store on April 23, 2011, but before she could take delivery, the District’s sole federally licensed firearms dealer went out of business temporarily. This effectively barred District residents from exercising their Second Amendment right to purchase firearms, the brief states.

The issue before the Court in Michelle Lane, et al v. Eric Holder, Jr., et al is whether Lane and other plaintiffs have standing to sue, which lower courts, including the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, denied. The ACRU brief asks the Court to hear the case.

“Regulation can violate the Constitutional rights of consumers by burdening the sale of goods or services that they want to buy, without actually banning such sales,” states the brief, written by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara.

“Since Petitioners have the right to possess handguns, they unquestionably have the right to purchase them,” the brief states. “Moreover, when consumers have a right to purchase something, they have a right to challenge unconstitutional government conduct that burdens their freedom to do so.”




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