- Professor George Mocsary, Southern Illinois Law
The “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act requires a mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence for anyone who has three prior “violent felony” convictions and is found to unlawfully possess a firearm. This clause has been addressed at the Supreme Court on numerous occasions in recent years, with Justice Scalia suggesting that it is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Johnson v. United States in November with no mention of the question, and after two months of silence re-scheduled the case for additional argument and instructed the parties to address this question directly. Many Court-watchers have suggested that there may now be five votes on the Court to declare the residual clause unconstitutionally vague.
On Janurary 22, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Abramski v. United States. This case concerns 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), a federal criminal statute that prohibits a person who buys a firearm, intending later to sell it to another person, from falsely making a statement about the identity of the ultimate purchaser that is “material to the lawfulness of the sale.” The question before the Court is twofold: (1) Is the initial purchaser’s intent to sell a firearm to another lawful purchaser in the future a fact “material to the lawfulness of the sale”?; and (2) Is such an intent a piece of information “required . . . to be kept” by a federally licensed firearm dealer under the same statute?
To discuss the case, we have Ken Klukowski, who is on faculty at Liberty University and is a Senior Legal Analyst at Breitbart News. He formerly worked for the National Rifle Association and was involved in the last two Second Amendment cases that went through the Supreme Court.
In July, the Illinois State Rifle Association filed an emergency motion for an injunction to bar the state from enforcing the ban on carrying firearms in public. On Thursday, October 3, 2013, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over the injunction request. David Thompson, who argued the case before a three-judge panel including Judge Richard Posner, joined us on a Teleforum conference call to speak about ongoing litigation on gun rights in the 7th circuit.