Legal Activities

 

U.S. v. Olofson

Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation have taken over the legal defense of David Olofson who was convicted of transferring an unregistered machine gun.

GOF/GOA FILE AMICUS BRIEF
IN SUPPORT OF AKINS ACCELERATOR

On November 26, 2008, Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Bill Akins effort to reverse a 2006 ruling handed down by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) that the Akins Accelerator is an illegal machinegun.

Prior to the 2006 ruling, Mr. Akins submitted the accelerator to ATF, requesting that ATF determine whether the accelerator converted a semi-automatic firearm into a machinegun.  Twice, ATF notified Mr. Akins that it had tested the accelerator and determined that it was not a machinegun.  Rather, both tests revealed that the accelerator simply enabled a semiautomatic rifle to shoot at an increased rate of fire, not with a single pull of the trigger, but only upon subsequent multiple functions of the trigger pressing against the shooter’s well-placed trigger finger.  Thus, the accelerator did not fit within the statutory definition of a machinegun because the firearm did not shoot automatically at the “single function of the trigger.”

In reliance on this official ATF decision, Mr. Akins invested his life savings to bring the accelerator into commercial production and sale.  Within months after the accelerator was placed on the market, ATF issued its 2006 ruling that the accelerator was — after all — a machinegun, forcing Mr. Akins to close down his company and cease production and sales.  To reach this decision, ATF overruled its previous decision because the multiple trigger functions were not caused by a multiple trigger “pulls,” but were set in motion by an initial “single pull” of the trigger.

In support of Mr. Akins’ primary claim that the ATF 2006 decision was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the legal definition of a machinegun, the GOF/GOA amicus brief emphasizes that the 2006 ruling was made in flagrant disregard of the plain language of the statutory definition of a machinegun — that “single function of the trigger” was not the same as “single pull of the trigger.”   Indeed, as pointed out in the amicus brief, ATF substituted “single pull of the trigger” for “single function of the trigger” because it was “necessary” to protect the “public safety” — as if Congress had given ATF unbridled discretion to outlaw “dangerous weapons,” when in fact Congress had enacted the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986 to specifically limit ATF discretion, not to unleash it.

Calling attention to Congress’s commitment in FOPA to confine the reach of  federal firearms statutes to the constitutional parameters set forth in the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the GOF/GOA brief urged the court of appeals not to defer to ATF’s claimed firearms “expertise,” calling the court’s attention to the recent Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment’s “enshrinement” of an individual right to keep and bear arms “necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”          
A decision on the Akins appeal is expected in the summer or fall of 2009.

Please click here to view the Akins Amicus Brief in PDF format

Amicus Brief: D.C. v. Heller

On February 11, 2008, Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation, along with several other groups, 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 issue in this case is whether three D.C. Code provisions violate a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for private use in one's home. Under long-standing rules limiting its jurisdiction, the Court should not entertain the Solicitor General's invitation to assess the constitutionality of the whole array of the current federal firearms statutes. Nor, in response to Petitioners and the Solicitor General, should the Court craft a standard of review not supported by the text to permit "reasonable" gun control. Rather, the Court should apply a standard of review dictated by the words and principles embodied in the Second Amendment, as directed by America's founders.

According to its text, context, and historic setting, the Second Amendment protects an individual right to private possession and use of handguns in one's own home. The individual right to keep and bear arms is essential to a "well regulated militia" -- a self-bodying, self-governing association of people privately trained to arms, modeled after the colonial militia that took up their privately-owned firearms to defeat a tyrannical effort to confiscate their arms. In turn, a "well regulated militia" ensures the preservation of a "free state" by allowing all members of the American polity to exercise, if necessary, the sovereign right of the "people" to reconstitute their government. In order to ensure its purpose to preserve the people's liberties, the Second Amendment bans discriminatory legislation against classes of persons that, by nature, are rightful members of "the people." In order to ensure its means to defeat tyranny, the Second Amendment bans discriminatory legislation against firearms that are essential to a preserve those liberties. By discriminating against law-abiding D.C. citizens and against handguns, the D.C. Code provisions violate both of these standards and, therefore, unconstitutionally infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Amicus Brief: Appeal Of Wyoming v. BATFE

Gun Owners Foundation filed an amicus brief 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.

In a letter dated August 6, 2004, BATF advised the Wyoming AG that, after review of the Wyoming MCDV expungement statute, it had concluded that Wyoming law did not meet the federal "complete expungement" standard governing MCDV convictions, as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33). In response to BATF's final ruling against Wyoming's statute, Wyoming's AG filed a complaint against BATF in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming as being "arbitrary and capricious, and in direct violation of federal law" and, therefore, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). The district court ruled against the State, adopting BATF's interpretation of the disputed firearms statutes.

GOF's brief argued that the district court, contrary to relevant and controlling case law precedent, erroneously upheld BATF's ruling, because Congress has directly and unambiguously established that expungements of state criminal convictions are to be determined by state law, not by an overriding federal standard, and that BATF's ruling violates 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A).

Ryan Horsley (Red's Trading Post) Legal Defense Fund
Celata Legal Defense Fund
BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney's Guide

By seizing a gun dealer's inventory, and subjecting those seized firearms to forfeiture, BATF has, in many cases, put gun dealers out of business, and in many others put those businesses in jeopardy of having to close their doors. Outraged by these tactics, GOF decided to do something about it. On July 4, 2007, in response to this practice and other BATF seizures of firearms, Gun Owners Foundation published 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. The Guide primarily contains practical insight into the sometimes arcane, and oftentimes complex and confusing, system which favors the BATF's persistent effort selectively to disrupt, and thereby, destroy law abiding firearms and ammunition dealers.

U.S. v. Kwan: Testimony of Len Savage

This is the official transcript of Len Savage's testimony on June 19, 2007 in the Albert Kwan case. Kwan was charged with possession of an unregistered machine gun and possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle. A jury acquitted Kwan of the machine gun charge, and found him guilty on the short-barreled rifle charge.

In his testimony Savage established himself as a firearms expert in Federal Court and showed that the BATFE needed to spend a significant amount of time and effort to modify Kwan's M14 semi-automatic rifle so that it would function as a fully-automatic firearm. He also debunked the BATFE's "once a machine gun always a machine gun" regulation and listed several instances where the Firearms Technology Branch had made mistakes in classifying firearms. Finally, Savage explained how the BATFE could prosecute most gun owners for possession of an unregistered machine gun: given enough time, tools, and parts, any semi-automatic firearm can be converted to a fully-automatic firearm.

Amicus Brief: USA v. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean

On May 25, 2007, Gun Owners Foundation 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," 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).

Thus, the amicus brief asks the court to overturn the convictions of Ramos and Compean in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, on the ground that these two Border Patrol agents were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for committing a federal crime which does not exist. GOF was joined in the amicus brief by three Congressmen (Walter B. Jones, Virgil H. Goode, Jr. and Ted Poe) who have been outspoken in defense of Ramos and Compean, and three other nonprofit organizations.
 
On June 18, 2007, Congressman Walter Jones addressed the U.S. House of Representatives about the Ramos and Compean case, in particular discussing the amicus brief filed by Congressman Jones, Gun Owners Foundation and others 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.
 
On August 18, 2008, GOF filed an additional brief in support of a petition for rehearing en banc in the case.

Watson v. United States: Strict Construction And "Use Of A Firearm"

GOF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Watson v. United States, asking the court to re-establish the common law doctrine of strict construction of criminal statutes, an historic legal principle mandating that, where two or more interpretations of a statute are possible, the court must choose the one most restrictive against the government. The modern shift away from strict construction results in prosecutorial abuse and convictions, as demonstrated by the Watson case, where defendant Watson was convicted of "use of a firearm" although he simply had received the firearm in exchange for drugs. While the immediate issue in this case concerned a narrow question of statutory interpretation, it has significant implications for gun owners generally. If a criminal statute can be broadly construed without regard to the ordinary meaning of a word, then statutes applying to gun ownership can be similarly extended by the government to restrict our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
FEC v. WRTL Amicus Brief
 
GOF and 11 other nonprofit organizations called on the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a federal district court ruling that the electioneering communications provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) are unconstitutional as applied. Electioneering communications prevent organizations like GOA from even mentioning the name of Congressmen in targeted broadcast issue advertisements. The case, Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (No. 06-969), is the first as-applied challenge to BCRA to be argued before the Supreme Court. Importantly, the coalition also asked the Supreme Court to revisit its prior holdings in Buckley v. Valeo and McConnell v. FEC based on their overlooking of the people's Freedom of the Press.

State of Wyoming v. BATFE: GOF Amicus Brief

On August 18, 2006, GOF filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the State of Wyoming on behalf of the State of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Attorney General, Patrick J. Crank.

The brief was submitted in opposition to a BATF ruling that a Wyoming concealed carry permit based on a Montana criminal background check is not sufficient to allow an FFL dealer to transfer a firearm without obtaining a current federal National Instant Criminal Background Check. BATF objected to a provision in Wyoming law that permits an expungement of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence so that it cannot be reviewed by the Wyoming Attorney General in conducting a criminal background check before issuing a concealed carry permit, while allowing the record to be maintained for use for other purposes. At stake in this case is the federalist principle that the states, not the federal government, have the primary responsibility to govern firearms use and ownership.
GOF Amicus Brief In Support Of Rudolph George Stanko

Mr. Rudolph Stanko was convicted of possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(1), which prohibits any person from possessing a firearm or ammunition if that person has been convicted of certain types of crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. According to the statutory definition, the predicate crime cannot be any federal or state offense "pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices."

The indictment against Mr. Stanko charged a violation of Section 922(g)(1) based upon a prior conviction of conspiracy of violating the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Prior to trial, defendant's attorneys moved to dismiss the indictment on several grounds, including that the crime of which Mr. Stanko was convicted fell within the category of excluded business offenses. The motion was denied, and the case was submitted to the jury without any mention of the business exclusion or any evidence that the crime of which Mr. Stanko had been convicted fit within the exclusion.

On November 2, 2006,Gun Owners Foundation filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Stanko's appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, contending: (a) that the indictment was legally defective because it failed to allege that the predicate crime did not fit within the business exclusion; and (b) that the jury instructions were invalid because they did not submit the business exclusion issue to the jury. Since the business exclusion is part of the statutory definition of the predicate crime, it is an element of the offense, and thus, must be alleged in the indictment and submitted to the jury. Failure to do so deprived the defendant of his Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury.

San Francisco Handgun Ban: GOF Amicus Brief

Gun Owners of America Founder Sen. H.L. Richardson (Ret.) actually authored the California state law that made this gun ban illegal to enact.

Stollenwerk Lawsuit Assistance Fund
Lisa Pelland Legal Defense
General Laney Railroaded By City Of Detroit
Baltimore Prosecutes Gun Owners For Self-Defense
GOF Establishes "Malicious Prosecution Fund"
Former NRA Director Russ Howard Hung Out To Dry
Petition for Writ of Certiorari-- Chenoweth et al v. William J. Clinton (GOF amicus)
Amicus Curiae Brief In Support Of Defendant-Appellee Timothy Joe Emerson
Texas Justice (If You Can Afford It) As BATF Entraps Arwady
Outrage At Police-State Treatment Of The Sherburn Family In California
City Of Alexandria, VA Sued Over Illegal Gun Ban
Amicus Curiae Brief In Support Of The Supreme Court Challenge To The Brady Act
Brief of Gun Owners Foundation as Amicus Curiae In Support Of Petitioner Silasse Bryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


BATFE:

Arbitrary And Outcome-based Testing "Procedures"

Am I An Enemy Of The US Government?
E-mail Exchange Re: The Above
ATF Retaliates When Faulty Procedures Brought To Light
Congressional Research Service: ATF Firearms Testing Procedures

Institutional Perjury And Gross Inaccuracies

BATFE Questionable Recordkeeping Practices Letter (pdf)
Declaration Of James H. Jeffries, III
August 2, 1996 Congressional Record -- Extensions Of Remarks
Department Of Justice Cover Letter
Schaible's Roll Call Training Excuses
Transcript Of Roll Call Training Tape
Affidavit Of Thomas B. Busey
Memorandum From Asisstant Director (Inspection)
Letter To ATF From Sen. Birch Bayh
Reply To Senator Bayh
Declaration Of Saeid Shafizade
Declaration Of Eric Martin Larson
Declaration Of Noel E. Napolilli
Declaration Of Mont Lamar Mendenhall

 


Educational Links

Bush Administration's Anti-gun Brief In D.C. v. Heller
Text Of Decision Overturning D.C.'s Gun Ban
Firearms ID Card Denial Overturned
Toxicology Of Lead At Shooting Ranges

Second Amendment Threatened By Supreme Court Use Of Foreign Law

This GOF paper critically analyzes two recent Supreme Court cases (Roper v. Simmons and Lawrence v. Texas) in which the Court has relied on international law to sustain constitutional challenges. In Roper, the Court overturned a Missouri law permitting capital punishment for 16 and 17 year olds, and in Lawrence, the Court overturned a Texas law prohibiting certain homosexual acts primarily because of foreign authorities. Additionally, the paper reviews the pros and cons of relying on such foreign sources in other areas. Recently, the United Nations has been pursuing a goal of eliminating all private ownership of firearms world-wide. If the Court continues to base its constitutional decisions on foreign law, the American people may find their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms seriously undermined because of trends in countries which have had historic hostility to private firearms ownership and because of the U.N.'s penchant to restrict firearms possession and use to government officials.

Terrorism, Self-Defense, And U.S. Obligations In A Post-9/11 World
U.S. Ceding Sovereignty to UN Under Anti-terrorism Guise
UN Resolution 1373
U.S. Report to CTC (12/01)(PDF)
U.S. Report to CTC (06/02)(PDF)
The Clinton Administration "Gun Plan"
entitledNATIONAL INTEGRATED FIREARMS VIOLENCE REDUCTION STRATEGY
Landmark Emerson Case (2nd Amdmt is an individual right)
NFA and other gun law related info and cases