CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey recently joined a coalition of 18 states urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case with implications for the Second Amendment.
The coalition’s recent filing raises the argument that governments at all levels have enacted laws eroding the Second Amendment rights of citizens, and without guidance from a higher court, appeals courts have allowed such laws to stand.
The case challenges the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting firearms dealers from selling handguns to out-of-state consumers. A U.S. District Court ruled such a ban was unconstitutional, but the decision was later overturned by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
The case involves Washington, D.C., residents Tracey and Andrew Hanson, who wanted to purchase a gun from Frederic Mance, a licensed firearms dealer in Texas. All of them are members of the Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which also is a plaintiff. D.C. doesn't have gun shops, so the Hansons wanted to purchase a gun from Mance. Texas and D.C. law say that's fine, but federal law forbids firearms dealers from selling handguns to anyone not a resident of the state in which the dealer does business.
"The Fifth Circuit’s opinion in this case reflects the confusion and circuit splits that have come to characterize this area of law," the filing states. "Only this court can resolve those issues. It is time for the court to fulfill its promise in Heller by providing additional guidance on the Second Amendment and giving effect to the enumerated constitutional right to keep and bear arms."
When the 5th Circuit denied a request for a rehearing by the full court, seven of the 15 active judges dissented in three separate opinions.
“The Second Amendment is one of many building blocks in the foundation of our Constitutional rights as Americans,” Morrisey said. “We are requesting the Supreme Court protect these fundamental rights by providing guidance to lower courts when cases on this matter arise.”
To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has not intervened in a major Second Amendment case since 2010, and it recently has declined to hear several such cases.
West Virginia joined the Texas-led brief with attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
U.S. Supreme Court case number 18-663