Second Amendment challenge to charges of aiding and abetting possession of a firearm by a felon

United States v. Huet, No. 10-4729 (3d Cir. 1/5/2012) (26 pages)

 The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed an indictment against Ms. Huet because it failed to state an offense for aiding and abetting possession of a firearm by a felon, and even if it did state an offense, the charge violated Ms. Huet’s Second Amendment rights. The Court of appeal reinstated the indictment.

Following an investigation, law enforcement officials raided Ms. Huet’s apartment where she lived with one Mr. Hall.  A search pursuant to a warrant yielded a rifle. Mr. Hall, a convicted felon, could not own a gun pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1) (possession of a firearm by a felon). Ms. Hall had no such disability, and said the guns were hers and she had the right to own them. She was charged with 18 U.S.C. §2 (aiding and abetting).

On appeal, the Court found the allegations sufficient to allow the matter to go to trial. It also disagreed with the District Court on the Second Amendment issue. However, it noted that there is a split in the Circuits on the meaning of the holding in the plurality opinion of McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3050 (2010) that longstanding prohibitions such as on the possession of firearms by certain classes of persons, laws forbidding their possession at certain places, laws imposing conditions on their sale, and laws prohibiting certain dangerous firearms were “presumptively lawful regulatory measures.” Some Circuits belief that the “presumptively lawful” language is dicta, others do not, and the Third Circuit is in the latter group. Applying the Third Circuit standard for measuring the validity of firearms laws under the Second Amendment— whether the challenged law imposes a burden on conduct falling within the scope of the Second Amendment— the Court decided it did not.

There are challenges all over the county, in state and federal courts, to the validity of all sorts of prohibitions on firearm possession and use.  They are easily discoverable by looking at the cases discussed in opinions such as Huet.

The case can be found here.




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