SCOTUS Puts Brakes on Feds Seizing Felon’s Guns

     (CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a convicted felon can ask a court to transfer his guns to a third party, rather than turning them over to the government.
     Federal law bars an individual convicted of a felony punishable by more than a year in prison from possessing a firearm. The high court’s unanimous ruling on Monday affirms that the government cannot simply seize the weapon.
     Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a court can transfer a felon’s weapons to a third party, so long as the court is satisfied the recipient will not let the felon use the weapons.
     “A felon cannot evade the strictures of [the law] by arranging a shame transfer that leaves him in effective control of his guns,” the Justice said.
     Tony Henderson, of Jacksonville, Fla., was U.S. border patrol agent who was arrested in 2006 on charges of selling small amounts of marijuana. He eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of distributing marijuana and was sentenced to six months in prison and has since been released.
     But during his court proceedings, Henderson turned his personal gun collection over to the government, and because of his conviction, he has been unable to get them back.
     Henderson said many of the firearms were family heirlooms, and since they had nothing to do with his pot selling, he argued his family should be able to get the weapons back. The government said no.
     On Monday the Supreme Court said the government was taking things too far.
     “Congress enacted [the] ban to keep firearms away from felons like Henderson, for fear that they would use those guns irresponsibly,” Justice Kagan wrote. “Yet on the government’s construction, [the law] would prevent Henderson from disposing of his firearms even in ways that guarantee he never uses the again, solely because he played a part in selecting their transferee.
     “He could not, for example, place those guns in a secure trust for distribution to his children after his death. He could not sell them to someone halfway around the world. He could not even donate them to a law enforcement agency,” Kagan said.

%d bloggers like this: