Federal

Significant Win in Federal Court

Today, in the case of Mance v. Holder, Judge Reed O’Conner pronounced a key portion of the Gun Control Act of 1968 unconstitutional. This ruling in the Northern District of Texas enjoins the federal government from enforcing several key provisions of the act, which relate to purchasing firearms out of state. Under the original Gun Control Act of 1968, only Federally Licensed Dealers were permitted to conduct interstate transfers. The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 allowed individuals to purchase long guns from out of state FFLs, but handguns remained restricted to in-state purchases only. Judge O’Conner did not find the law narrowly tailored enough to justify its burden on the Second Amendment right, and struck the handgun provision down. This ruling is certain to be appealed by the federal government.

Despite today’s ruling, most Federal Firearm Licensees are not likely to begin selling handguns to out-of-state buyers until they have guidance from ATF, which is not likely to come until the case has been fully litigated. Enforcement of the law may be enjoined today, but that does not mean it will be enjoined tomorrow. The Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit may decide to stay the injunction while the government’s appeal is pending.

While private person transfers (PPTs) were not specifically challenged in this case, so even if higher courts uphold this ruling, it would remain unlawful for unlicensed individuals to transfer a firearm interstate. But individuals would be able to purchase a handgun out of state.

Pennsylvania

Municipalities and cities all over the Commonwealth continue to repeal their illegal ordinances in the face of a new state law that strengthens our preemption statute. The new statute makes the municipality responsible for legal costs, and also gives any PA resident, or a group representing PA residents, standing to challenge an illegal ordinance. So far the only holdouts are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, and Harrisburg. NRA is involved with lawsuits against the first three of those cities to force compliance.