Federal Judge Strikes Down Federal Interstate Handgun Transfer Ban

Major victory for Second Amendment proponents.


Credit: xomiele / / CC BY-NC-SA

In a major victory today for Second Amendment advocates, Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, declared the federal interstate handgun transfer ban to be unconstitutional.

"The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is unique compared to other firearms restrictions because it does not target certain people (such as felons or the mentally ill), conduct (such as carrying firearms into government buildings or schools), or distinctions among certain classes of firearms (such as fully automatic weapons or magazine capacity). Instead," Judge O'Connor wrote in Mance v. Holder, "the federal interstate handgun transfer ban targets the entire national market of handgun sales and directly burdens law-abiding, responsible citizens who seek to complete otherwise lawful transactions for handguns."

According to Judge O'Connor, this approach not only infringes on the core scope of the Second Amendment, it fails to permissibly advance a legitimate government interest while doing so. The Obama administration, he wrote, has "not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government's goals under current law. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face."

Equally important for Second Amendment advocates is the fact that Judge O'Connor employed the legal standard known as "strict scrutiny" when reviewing the federal ban. In constitutional cases, strict scrutiny is the most exacting level of judicial review and is reserved for those disputes where a "fundamental" right is considered to be at stake.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which did not endorse any specific level of scrutiny for future Second Amendment cases, gun rights advocates have been urging the lower courts to practice strict scrutiny whenever appropriate. Today's win accomplished that important goal and will now serve as an example for other federal judges to follow as they grapple with America's fast-growing Second Amendment jurisprudence.

One final point. The architect of today's win was the civil rights lawyer Alan Gura, who argued and won the case and who previously argued and won Heller at the Supreme Court. Gura's pathbreaking legal work continues to expand the Second Amendment liberties of all Americans.

The opinion in Mance v. Holder is available here.

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  1. I wish Alan Gura would take up the NY SAFE Act.

    1. For an update on how the suit that was file for that is going,

      It was argued before the 2nd circuit and we’re currently waiting that ruling before it wanders off to SCOTUS.

    2. Right after he comes to Massachusetts and wipes the books clean here.

    3. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $12600 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.

  2. or distinctions among certain classes of firearms (such as fully automatic weapons or magazine capacity)

    Glad the law is struck down, but how is “handgun” not a “distinction amoung certain classes of firearms”?

    1. I think your considering ‘handgun’ in the vernacular or in the art rather than in light of the 2nd Am.

      “Handgun”, however construed, advances no special interest under strict scrutiny as opposed to ‘rocket launcher’ and ‘used in or at public buildings’ advances *some* interest and viable scrutiny.

    2. Because it’s not a distinction “among certain classes of firearms”

      Handgun is a class of firearm, from how I read it, you would need a further distinction. As the post points out, magazine capacity, full auto etc. The law (is this a law passed by duly elected members of congress, or is this a ‘reg’ passed by a bunch of guys eating donuts in a boardroom watching a powerpoint) says handguns write-large.

    3. The term “handgun” is arbitrary. Don’t you use hands to operate a shotgun or rifle? I understand your questioning the point but go deeper . . . who has the right to name a class of firearm?

      1. Handgun, not HANDSgun. A handgun is defined by being designed to be operated with one hand. This is quite obviously different from the operation of rifles and shotguns.

        1. Excepting that this definition is 60 some years out of date. No-one teaches you to use a handgun with just one hand. The 1950s saw the Weaver and Isosceles stance become the only way anyone is taught to use the “handgun” (excepting very specific circumstances).

          I dare anyone to use a 2 1/2″ barreled 500 S&W with one hand. Just let me video it and I’ll pay your medical bills…

          1. No need to video, this women already did it:


            It’s pretty funny that her balls are bigger than yours.

  3. …directly burdens law-abiding, responsible citizens who seek to complete otherwise lawful transactions for handguns.

    Uh, once it’s been banned it’s no longer lawful. That’s the point.

    1. Hence “otherwise lawful.”

      1. Well, sure, murder is otherwise lawful. Kidnapping is otherwise lawful. Hurting people’s feelings on social media is otherwise lawful.

        You don’t want to start down that slippery slope.

        1. What? That’s a stretch.

          1. ” murder is otherwise lawful.”
            War, and almost daily police interactions

            ” Kidnapping is otherwise lawful”
            Do not pass go, do not collect $200..

        2. Hurting people’s feelings on social media is otherwise lawful.

          Perhaps you missed the recent stylings of an NPR Alumnus.

        3. Constitution protects life, liberty and property. Murder violates the first, kidnapping the second. Hurting people’s feelings on social media? Unless it’s proven to be libel/slander, that’s protected under the First Amendment.

      2. “Otherwise lawful” means lawful except for the law at issue.

        You’re welcome.

  4. Does this mean I can walk out of a gun store in a state in which I do not reside with a shiny new pistol? Because that would be a good thing.

    1. I’m not a lawyer, but presumably this is exactly what it means?


      1. Will my Amazon Prime membership get me Class 3 stuff? Free two day shipping for silencers and machine guns…yipee?

        1. It sure does!.. ~6 months to a year later, after your BATF background check and tax stamp has been issued..

          1. Already part of a trust…

    3. That is exactly the context of this ruling.

      1. Somehow I think the Vermont gun stores are still going to decline to do business with me for being a New Yorker.

        1. Well, they can’t sell a gun to someone who isn’t covered by the Second Amendment 😉

    4. Not exactly. Some states, like the backwards state of NJ, require that a purchaser of a handgun possess a NJ Firearms ID card, and they are also required to get a permit to purchase a handgun, signed by the chief of police in their municipality.

      Someone from PA would have to sue the state of NJ and win in federal court in order to declare NJ’s pistol purchase fiasco unconstitutional.

      So will someone from PA PLEASE sure NJ?

      1. Pennsylvania will consider it, but only if NJ agrees to annex Philadelphia County as payment.

        1. Okay, works for me!

        2. I think that they want PA to annex Camden.

          1. Holy cow. Why would anyone other than the Empire wan’t to annex Camden.

    5. not sure why you couldn’t?

    6. Yes but only if you would be allowed to do so in your state of residence. So unfortunately you will still have a situation where gun shop owners will just refuse to sell to residents of CA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, CT.

      1. I’m unfortunately a CA resident. I have a Handgun Safety Certificate. If I can show this to an online dealer or whatever, why wouldn’t they sell me something? Hell, certain online dealers already sell to CA with FFL holding stores as middlemen.

      2. So nothing has really changed for residents of CA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, CT?

  5. Anyone know how to send Alan Gura some money? He is doing righteous work.

    1. I just sent him an email and asked him how to do so.…..t-us/59-2/

  6. pretty funny coming from a so called constitutional scholar and his cabinet

  7. States will continue to get even safer and media will continue to avoid reporting on the increase in gun ownership and CCW issuance data points as leading factors.

    1. Ya’ know, once upon a time I was a great fan of yours. You lost me by beating the war drums a bit too hard.

      You are starting to win me back over.

      1. I tend to be appreciably non-interventionist when it comes to war. And it has nothing to do with being on that chopper during the Iraq Invasion that got hit by four….teen RPGs. (last part sarc)

        1. Don’t worry SD thinks anyone that does not uphold his exact foreign policy dogma is ‘beating the war drums’.

          1. Anyone that doesn’t uphold Cytotoxic’s exact foreign policy dogma is a “peacenazi”

  8. This is going to drive CA DOJ crazy. They legislate what handguns are safe, and they can get away with it because other states won’t sell handguns to you if your not a resident.

  9. The whole transfer process is fucked up. Any infringement on our rights is nothing more than government oppression of citizens. Punish people for their actions, not prior restraint. The transfer process is so egregiously an infringement that only a simpleton or ideologue would support it. I hope this leads to a good place, but won’t hold my breath. The court system has long since not been about our rights, but rather about justifying a socialist control agenda.

    1. Yeah, I tend to agree. It makes me irate when people compare us to other countries in regards to guns. It’s as much a part of American culture as the automobile. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly want my neighbor to set up a mortar position in his backyard and have his kids as observers, but most guns laws only limit the reasonable person.

      1. I wouldn’t mind if he did set up a mortar in his backyard. If he fired it into my yard, however, he’d have to deal with my very accurate scoped rifles.

        As long as he follows NAP, I don’t give a darn how much firepower he has.

  10. I really hope Hollis V. Holder comes down for the plaintiff. I would love to see the Hughes amendment done away with, and it would be a nice start.

  11. One of these days they are going to figure out the whole gun control argument is completely ridiculous. With some 300 million plus guns out in the country any real attempt at controlling who has a gun at any given time is absolutely impossible.

    The main thing that these laws do is hurt the lawful use/ownership of weapons.

    Todays ruling is encouraging but, we have a tremendous way to go.

  12. I’m going to show you how I make a living online! Here is a company that will pay you $100 if you don’t make money in 24 hours. Take a look this company has an A+ Business Bureau Rating

    Get Paid Up To $23.75 Per hour w?w?w.W?o?r?k4hour.C?o??m

  13. my best friend’s ex-wife makes $65 an hour on the computer . She has been without a job for seven months but last month her check was $13740 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this…………..


  14. The Washington Times has a decent breakdown of what this does and doesn’t do.…..s-pistol-/

  15. Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income… You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection… Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up… You can have your first check by the end of this week………..

  16. Hey, as long as I continue to read daily stories about “law abiding” gun owners offing their relatives or their kids mistakenly offing another offspring or relative I know natural selection is in place.

    Just as important we need to ensure guns are available for those who suffer from inadequacy and need to overcompensate have a way to do so.

    1. Hey so long as I continue to keep reading stories about our heros in blue offing unarmed teenagers and alleged cigarette peddlers I will know that goose stepping morons are still in charge.

      Just as important we already provide weapons for those suffering from inadequacy and the need to over-compensate. It is called government work. I hear it pays well.

    2. Hey, as long as I continue to read daily stories about “law abiding” gun owners offing their relatives or their kids mistakenly offing another offspring or relative I know natural selection is in place.

      Like the ones in the inner city? That’s mighty white of you.

      Just as important we need to ensure guns are available for those who suffer from inadequacy and need to overcompensate have a way to do so.

      What is it with progs and their obsession with “compensation”? It’s almost manic. You’d think they’d practice a little self-awareness if the first thing that came to their mind every time they saw a truck or a gun was a penis.

  17. my classmate’s mom makes $82 /hr on the laptop . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $16174 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you can check here……………

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