Tags: gun | ownership | rights | court

Gun Ownership Rights Appear To Be Moving Target For US Justices

Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 03:28 PM

WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared conflicted on Tuesday over the gun ownership rights of a convicted felon from Florida who wants to sell the 19 firearms he voluntarily surrendered to the FBI after he was arrested on drug charges.

The court heard oral arguments in an appeal brought by Tony Henderson, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who in 2007 pleaded guilty to distributing marijuana and other drug offenses and was sentenced to six months in prison.

Convicted felons cannot possess firearms under federal law.

The case is somewhat unusual because, upon his arrest, Henderson voluntarily gave the FBI his gun collection. But after he was convicted, Henderson sought to sell the guns either to a friend or to transfer ownership to his wife.

Although concerned about the possibility of guns falling into the wrong hands if felons get to choose who to transfer ownership to, the justices appeared unsure how to craft a ruling that outlines how the transfer could be carried out.

One option the high court has is the federal government's suggested compromise, which is that Henderson can sell the guns, but only through a federally registered gun dealer.

Several justices were critical of the government's proposed compromise. Justice Antonin Scalia said the government was "drawing a very artificial line" by suggesting it was acceptable to sell guns via a dealer but not transfer ownership to anyone else.

Apparently backing the government's position, Justice Elena Kagan suggested the court focus more upon who ends up with the gun rather than how it is sold. The aim should be to ensure the original owner cannot exercise any control over the new owner, she said.

"That seems to me to make perfect sense," Kagan said.

A federal judge had refused Henderson's request that he be able to sell the guns, as did the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling this past January.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

The case is Henderson v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1487.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared conflicted on Tuesday over the gun ownership rights of a convicted felon from Florida who wants to sell the 19 firearms he voluntarily surrendered to the FBI after he was arrested on drug...
gun, ownership, rights, court
339
2015-28-24
Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 03:28 PM
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