Judge denies stay request in interstate handgun case

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor denied a request from attorneys on behalf of the Justice Department to stay a February ruling that found interstate handgun purchase bans are unconstitutional.

The Citizens Committee for the Rights to Keep and Bear Arms originally brought the case, Mance v. Eric H. Holder and B. Todd Jones, last July. The group filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth division, over the case of a couple from Washington, D.C. who tried to buy handguns from a federally licensed firearms dealer in Texas but could not due to federal law.

Under attack is the Federal Regulatory Regime set up by the Gun Control Act of 1968 that bars FFLs from selling handguns to potential eligible buyers who do not reside in the same state the dealer is located.

No such restriction applies to the interstate sale of rifles or shotguns.

The government filed a motion two days after the Mance judgment was handed down requesting a 60-day stay while Justice contemplated appeal options. Connor effectively told the government to either fish or cut bait Thursday in a simple order denying the motion.

This was greeted by suit plaintiffs with understated relief Monday.

“We’re delighted that Judge O’Connor is not going to simply allow the government to stall this ruling,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb in a statement obtained by Guns.com. “This case could have significant ramifications nationwide, and allowing a two-month stay while the government essentially claims it will be thinking about whether to appeal obviously was not warranted.”

Besides the relief requested to be able to transfer handguns to visiting nonresidents, the Mance case further claims the prohibition prejudices handgun sales and artificially inflates prices as not all dealers are willing to perform interstate transfers, and when they do there is a fee involved.

Further, the additional cost of more expensive shipping options to overnight handguns, rather than the cheaper options for shipping long arms like shotguns and rifles, also add to the price.

Industry leaders cautioned that the fight, however, is not over.

“We are encouraged by this news because a right delayed is a right denied,” Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation told Guns.com Tuesday. “This case will now likely move to the appellate courts where NSSF will file an amicus brief on behalf of our industry in support of the holding in this case.”