Holder supports ban against interstate gun sales

Holder supports ban against interstate gun sales
United States Attorney General Eric Holder has gone on the record to oppose a lawsuit filed by Second Amendment advocates who say a federal ban against purchasing handguns out of state violates the US Constitution.

On Friday, Holder filed a 60-page motion rejecting a lawsuit filed in July that challenged a ban on how Americans acquire handguns, according to Courthouse News Service.

At the time, a coalition made up of federally licensed gun dealers, firearms buyers and the Citizens Committee for the Rights to Keep and Bear Arms group all filed a suit against the attorney general and the director of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives because they said a law prohibiting the purchase of handguns outside of one’s home state violated their right to own firearms.

“This prohibition plainly reduces competition, raises prices, and limits consumers' choices in the handgun market,” the plaintiffs said then.

Now, though, Holder has officially expressed his objection with that argument. According to Courthouse News, the attorney general responded to the suit and supported the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

David Lee, a reporter for Courthouse News, explained on Monday how Holder relied on a previous decision out of the Fifth Circuit to apply a “two-step” test to analyze the plaintiff’s argument.

“[F]irst, a law is constitutional if it burdens conduct that falls outside of the Second Amendment's scope; and second, an appropriate level of means-end scrutiny is applied if the law burdens conduct that falls within the Second Amendment,” Lee wrote.

According to Holder, the scope aspect is enough to end the plaintiffs’ arguments dead in its tracks. "Here, the court's inquiry can end at step one because the challenged laws do not impose any burden, let alone a substantial burden, on conduct historically protected by the Second Amendment," his motion reads. "However, even if the court were to proceed to the second step in an abundance of caution, the laws readily pass muster under intermediate scrutiny, the appropriate level of review.”

“The court should thus dismiss plaintiffs' claims or enter summary judgment for defendant,” Holder said.

Elsewhere, the attorney general says a request made by the plaintiffs — a request to split the Second Amendment’s provisions into "the right to buy firearms from a licensed dealer operating outside one's state of residence without using an in-state dealer, and the right of licensed dealers to sell firearms outside the state in which they operate without using an intermediary dealer in the purchaser's home state” — simply isn’t obtainable.

"Even if viewed at a higher level of generality, any contention that the Second Amendment extends its protection to buying and selling firearms cannot be squared withHeller's conclusion that 'laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms’ are 'presumptively lawful regulatory measures," Holder said, referring to the 2008 landmark decision pertaining to gun ownership within the home.

"At the outset, plaintiffs confuse the relevant issue by arguing that, because the Second Amendment protects the right to keep a handgun, it must protect the right to acquire a handgun,” Holder added. On the contrary, however, he said, “Though plaintiffs raise several objections to this evidence, none has merit."

Although the attorney general’s motion won’t immediately halt the plaintiffs’ case, Holder is asking that the federal court system reject the lawsuit.