- Stephen Halbrook, Attorney
In a per curiam opinion issued on March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upholding a state law prohibiting the possession of stun guns, finding that the decision was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Justices Alito and Thomas issued a concurring opinion which would have gone further in finding the Massachusetts statute unconstitutional. Our expert discussed the case and its implications for the Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence going forward.
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.