Group Demands Interstate Sale of Handguns

     FORT WORTH (CN) - The federal government's ban on the purchase of handguns outside of a person's state of residence violates the seller's and buyer's constitutional rights, a gun rights group claims in court.
     The Citizens Committee for the Rights to Keep and Bear Arms, federally licensed firearms dealer Frederic Russell Mance Jr., of Texas, and gun buyers Tracey and Andrew Hanson, of Washington, D.C., sued U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones in Federal Court on Monday.
     The plaintiffs claim the ban stops the formation of a national handgun market.
     "Americans are free to purchase rifles and shotguns across state lines, so long as those transactions comply with the laws of the seller's and purchaser's states," the 11-page lawsuit states. "But under federal law, no American may lawfully purchase a handgun outside his or her state of residence. This prohibition plainly reduces competition, raises prices, and limits consumers' choices in the handgun market."
     The plaintiffs say several states do not oppose "and even welcome" in-state handgun sales.
     "Federal law with respect to interstate rifle and shotgun sales provides a ready example of a more carefully tailored alternative, prohibiting sales that violate state law - and permitting those that do not," the complaint states. "There is no need to criminalize the entire interstate handgun market."
     The plaintiffs say the ban shields in-state dealers from competition from a national handgun market and makes the handguns more expensive for out-of-state buyers. Mance claims the Hansons visited his store in June from out of town, and were unable to buy the guns because of the ban.
     "In the District of Columbia, where the Hansons reside, only one federally licensed firearms dealer, Charles Sykes, is currently in the business of transferring handguns purchased at retail to District residents," the complaint states. "Sykes carries no inventory himself, but charges $125 per transfer for handguns received from other dealers. Thus, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban increases the cost of handgun purchases by District of Columbia residents by $125, plus the costs of shipping the handguns to Sykes from other dealers."
     Federal officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday evening.
     Founded in 1971 in Bellevue, Wash., the CCRKBA claims more than 615,000 members.
     The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the Second and Fifth Amendments. They are represented by William Mateja with Fish Richardson in Dallas.