Descriptions of various gun court cases (a-t)

Copyright by James O. Bardwell, 1995-1997. Permission is given to reproduce this document or portions thereof with attribution, for non-commercial, or non-governmental use only. No claim to U.S. statutes, regulations or case opinions quoted herein.

Various gun court case links with no descriptions (same cases as this document)

Cases u-z

  • Armijo v. Ex Cam, Inc., 656 F.Supp 771 (D.N.M. 1987)
  • Armijo v. Ex Cam, Inc. 843 F.2d 406 (10th Cir. 1988)
    n this case the 10th circuit appeals court rejects a suit that attempts to hold the maker and importer of a handgun liable for its use in a crime. The court says that there is no liability for making or selling a non-defective handgun.
  • Auto-Ordnance Corp. v. U.S., 822 F.2d 1566 (Fed. Cir. 1987)
    This is a case about the application of the firearms excise tax, 11% of "sale price" on long guns sold for resale, 10% on handguns, and 11% on ammo. All of these apply in the commercial making context, of whole guns only, not parts, and only at the time of sale. Anyway the tax doesn't apply to accessories, even if sold with a gun, the question was what is an accessory? Auto-Ord claimed the things that made the Deluxe semi- auto Thompson different from the Std. model, an adjustable rear sight and front sight/compensator unit, were accessories; that an accessory was anything not needed to use the gun as a gun, ie fire a bullet. The court agreed, and agreed that there was no tax due on the price difference between the Std. model and Deluxe model. I believe Auto-Ord dropped the Std. Model soon after this case came out... In any case, the case can give you an idea of how the firearms excise tax works.
  • Bagdonas v. Department of Treasury, 93 F.3d 425 (7th Cir. 1996)
    In this case a guy who was a felon, having been convicted of selling a rifle equipped with a silencer made out of a lawn mower mufffler to a ATF agent, asks ATF to remove his firearms disability. ATF refuses; but refuses to give any reasons. He sues. While court expresses its disgust at ATF's refusal to give its reasons; when ATF does cough up post-hoc reasons, the court finds that the law gives them so much discretion that their reasons are good enough to uphold their determination. The court also suggests that ATF actually comply with the law and the constitution, and give its reasons, the fact that they got away with it here suggests they won't. The cutoff of funds for such investigations was not a factor in this case, apparently because the investigation that led ATF to turn Bagdonas down was completed before the cut-off, and he was appealing from a refusal to reconsider that decision, not from a refusal to investigate at all. While this case deals with the firearms disability issue, it is instructive as to ATF's action on all administrative issues, that are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
  • Ballew v. U.S., 389 F. Supp. 47 (D. Md. 1975)
    This is a civil suit against the government by Kenyon Ballew, a guy who was raided by the ATF in 1971, in Maryland for having unregistered grenades, and was shot when he brandished a pistol at the invading officers. The court totally rejects his claims, saying they were his own fault, the search warrant was fine, and that he did in fact possess unregistered grenades (although he apparently was never prosecuted) by having dummy casings, black and smokeless powder, and fuzes from smoke grenades. This case was alluded to by Doug Oefinger in his interview in MGN a while back. The NRA also points to this incident on occasion as an example of ATF excess and BS.
  • Benjamin v. B.A.T.F., 771 F.Supp. 307 (D.Ore. 1991)
    In this case the court upholds ATF's revocation of Benjamin's FFL, for refusing to permit agents to conduct a compliance inspection of the licensed premises. Benjamin's licensed premises were a garage adjacent to his parent's house. The agents requested to see the inside of the house, which Benjamin's mom refused. The agents never asked to see the garage - they asked to see the "licensed premises", then indicated the house. The court decided that even though the agents asked to see a place they were not permitted to go, he would construe the request to see the "licensed premises" to mean the garage, even though that was not what the agent nor Benjamin, nor his mom indicated in testimony they understood the agent to mean, and thus uphold the revocation.
  • Bennet v. Cincinnati Checker Cab Co., Inc. 353 F.Supp. 1206 (E.D. Ky. 1973)
    In this case a woman shot by the driver of a taxi cab she took home from work sued the cab company and the importer of the pistol used by the assailant. In this decision the court rejects her contention that the importer of the handgun is responsible for its use in the crime, and rejects her argument that the gun was sold in violation of the Gun Control Act, noting that it was sold to the Kentucky dealer that sold it to the driver before the GCA was enacted.
  • Bieder v. United States, 662 A.2d 185 (D.C. App. 1995)
    Bieder was a guy with a NY CCW permit. He was visiting our Nation's Kapitol, and at security at the Kapitol Building he gave the guard his fanny pack and handgun, telling him he had a NYC permit. He was prosecuted for: Having an unregistered gun in D.C.; having unregistered ammunition in D.C.; and carrying a firearm concealed. His defense, in part, was that he was moving the gun through D.C. (in his trunk and unloaded at that time) in compliance with 18 U.S.C. sec 926A, the preemption of local bans while traveling part of the FOPA. The trial court declined to let him present that defense, and he appealed. The appeals court reversed, and agreed that as the law did allow him to carry his gun through D.C. under those circumstances, he should have been able to assert it. I haven't found too many cases construing that section, and some folks are nervous it won't be applied the way it reads. This court did, and also seemed to apply it to the ammo, although that is not expressly covered. BTW, Bieder had a different defense for the time he had the gun in the fanny pack, loaded. It wasn't real persuasive to me though. Clearly a guy who was so used to going armed he forgot he shouldn't outside NY.
  • Bolduc v. Colt's Mfg. Co., Inc., 968 F.Supp. 16 (D.Mass. 1997)
    In this brief opinion the trial court dismisses a product liability suit against Colt, over the design of their Mustang pistol, in particular their failure to include a magazine disconnect safety in the gun - a safety that prevents the gun from being fired if the magazine is removed, even if there is a live round left in the chamber of the gun. The plaintiff is the executor of the estate of a drunken man who was goofing around with a friend's Mustang, and shot himself in the head with it, apparently thinking it was unloaded when he put it to his head and pulled the trigger. The court notes that intentional misuse, and went on to note that under Mass. law, a suggested design defeciency had to not impair the utility of the gun. The court said that given that numerous users of the pistol rejected magazine disconnect safeties, it would impair the utility of the gun to include them. This claim that a magazine disconnect would have prevented injury in cases of reckless and intentional misuse of automatic pistols is regularly made, and nearly always rejected.
  • Bradley v. B.A.T.F., 736 F.2d 1238 (8th Cir. 1984)
  • Braun v. Soldier of Fortune, Inc., 968 F.2d 1110 (11th Cir 1992)
    This case doesn't have much to do with gun laws, but I got inquiries about the case around Soldier of Fortune magazine's liability for running a classified ad that someone used to find a hired killer. This is the case upholding that liability, and the resulting judgment threatened to put the magazine out of business. Apparently in the end the publisher was able to convince the plaintiffs to take significantly less money, a sum SOF could pay, and stay in business. See also the Eimann case, on a similar subject, that SOF won.
  • Brennan v. U.S., 435 F.Supp. 451 (E.D.Mich. 1977)
    In this case the court refuses to permit the reimportation into the USA of 89 NFA firearms exported from the USA to Canada when the owner moved there. The court also refuses to permit the importation of an additional 7 NFA firearms apparently obtained by the owner while living in Canada. While the guns were registered in the USA when they were exported, once exported they were removed from the NFA Registry, and had to comply with current law in order to be imported (ie as sample guns, for experimentation or research, or for sale to government entities).
  • Brown v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 976 F.Supp. 729 (W.D.Tenn 1997)
    In this case the trial court refuses to grant Wal-Mart summary judgment on claims that the store was negligent in selling ammunition which was later used in a homicide. The court notes that the killer was 18, and the ammo was suitable for use in both a handgun and rifle (.357 magnum) and that under ATF regulations they were supposed to inquire as to the use of the ammo before selling it to someone under 21. The court rejected cases holding (impliedly) that the regulation was without basis in the Gun Control Act, and that persons over 18 could buy any ammunition for a rifle from a dealer, whether it was usable in a handgun or not, and without regard to the intended use. The court also found that there was a cause of action in Tennessee for selling ammunition to someone likely to misuse it, in this case someone under 21.
  • Bryan v. U.S., 373 F.2d 403 (5th Cir. 1967)
    In this case the 5th circuit decides that it is a question for the jury whether a particular gun is covered by the NFA, and the fact that the judge refused to permit testimony on whether a H&R Handy Gun was or was not a NFA gun was error, as was his instructing the jury that the gun was covered by the NFA as a matter of law. The court rejected the argument that its prior decision in US v. Fisher forclosed evidence on the issue of whether a smooth bore pistol was an NFA weapon.
  • Burtch v. Department of the Treasury, 120 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 1997)
    In this case the 9th circuit follows the 5th circuit case of McGill, and decides that felons may not petition for the restoration of their gun ownership rights, since Congress cut off funding for that. The court rejects the 3rd circuit in the Rice case.
  • Burton v. U.S., 414 F.2d 261 (5th Cir. 1969)
    In this case the 5th circuit decides that, under the pre-68 NFA, there is no self incrimination problem with a charge of possessing an NFA firearm made in violation of the NFA, since the defendant is not the person who made the gun, and is not being asked to make any statements. Implicitly the court rejects the argument that the fact that since the maker was called on to incriminate himself, the regulation of makers is void, and thus possessing a gun made in violation of a void law is also void, as another court ruled.
  • B-West v. U.S., 880 F.Supp. 853 (CIT 1995)
  • B-West Imports, Inc., v. U.S., 75 F.3d 633 (Fed. Cir. 1996)
    In this case the Federal Circuit court of appeals upholds the constitutionality and legality of the suspension of arms imports from China, under the President's authority under the Arms Export Control Act. The court decides it is a lawful exercise of the authoirty to bar imports, and to suspend already granted import permits. The court also decides that as the import of firearms is so regulated that there is no property right in such a permit, such that revoking is a "taking" of property for which compenation is owed, under the 5th amendment.
  • Caplan v. B.A.T.F., 587 F.2d 544 (2nd Cir. 1978)
    In this case the court decides that ATF's Raids and Searches manual is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, as it relates to internal practices of the agency, and is exempt under exemption (b)(2). See Hardy v. BATF.
  • Capooth v. U.S., 238 F.Supp. 583 (S.D. Tx. 1965)
    In this case the district court upholds the pre-68 NFA section 5851, prohibiting possession of an unregistered NFA weapon, against the claim that it violates the defendant's right against self incrimination, in the same way that punishing the failure to register does. The court disagrees, and follows the 9th circuit cases of Frye and Starks.
  • Carew v. Centracchio, 17 F.Supp.2d 56 (D.R.I. 1998)
    In this decision the court upholds the firing of a Air National Guard security guard for being convicted of a doemestic violence misdemeanor, meaning he could no longer possess a firearm on the job. The court finds that the law is valid, and the firing proper.
  • Casanova Guns, Inc., v. Connally, 454 F.2d 1320 (7th Cir. 1972)
    In this case the court upholds the rejection of a license renewal application from a company that ATF found, and the court agreed, was controlled by a second company that had been convicted of a felony.
  • Cases v. U.S., 131 F.2d 916 (1st Cir. 1942)
    This is a case from 1942, deciding, among other things, whether the 2nd amendment prohibited the feds from regulating possession of a handgun and ammunition for it, under the now defunct Federal Firearms Act. Cases was a felon who had a pistol and ammo he used to shoot someone in Puerto Rico. The court decides that the Miller case can be ignored, as it would lead to the result that if a gun has any relation to an armed citizenry, the feds couldn't regulate it. And virtually all guns, except perhaps flintlock's and "harquebuses" have such a relation. Or so the court says. They uphold Cases' conviction. I don't really know how this is perverted by the court in Warin to say that the 2nd amendment means states can have a National Guard. Guess the judges in the Warin case were hoping no one would read the cases they cited as precedent....
  • Casillas v. Auto-Ordnance Corp., 1996 WL 276830 (N.D.Cal. May 17, 1996)
    In this unpublished case a federal court in California throws out a suit against the maker of a handgun styled after the Thompson machine gun, based on the gun's use in a criminal shooting. The court rejects the traditional claims that selling handguns or guns is an ultrahazardous activity, and that the gun was marketed to criminals. The court also rejects a theory that the gun is an assault weapon banned by California law, and thus, based on a trial court decision in a case involving a shooting spree with an Intratect TEC-DC9, the seller of an illegal gun is liable for shootings with the gun. The court notes that the gun in question is not listed as an assault weapon, and that the decision in the Intratec case is not binding on this court. The court further notes that the federal assault weapon ban does not affect this gun, as it was made and sold well before the federal law took effect.
  • Castellano v. U.S., 350 F.2d 852 (10th Cir. 1965)
    In this case the 10th circuit follows Starks and Frye cases, and decides that a prosecution for possessing an unregistered NFA gun, under the pre-68 NFA does not violate the right against self incrimination in the way that a prosecution for non-registration would, even though registering the gun you possess would incriminate you in the same way as registering a gun would, period. The logic of this case was overruled by the Supreme Court in the Haynes v. US case.
  • Castro v. U.S., 296 F.2d 540 (5th Cir. 1961)
  • Caveny v. Raven Arms, 665 F.Supp. 530 (D.S.Ohio 1987)
    In this case the federal district court, construing Ohio law, rejects a claim that the maker of a gun used to murder a woman is responsible for the crime. The court decides that the maker of a non-defective gun that is used in a crime is not liable for that use.
  • Center to Prevent Handgun Violence v. Dept. of Treasury, - F.Supp. - (D.D.C. 1997)
    In this case the court rejects ATF's arguments as to why the multiple handgun sale reports should not be released to the anti-gun Center to Prevent Handgun Violence under the Freedom of Information Act. While the Center did not request the names and addresses of the handgun buyers, they did want the make model and serial number of the guns, and the name and address of the dealer that submitted the form. ATF did not want to release the serial numbers or the dealer names, however the court rejected their arguments as to why they should be removed, and directed ATF to release them as the Center asked.
  • Century Arms, Inc., v. Kennedy, 323 F. Supp. 1002 (D. Vt. 1971)
    This is from 1971, where Century got screwed in the enacting of the GCA, which cut off from import $300,000+ worth of military surplus guns they were all set to import, had permits and everything, and the GCA barred them from import. Century sued, and lost. Mostly this is interesting for the history on the enactment of the GCA, and how evil and dangerous cheap military surplus guns were considered - long guns and handguns. Senator Dodd, father of the current Sen. Dodd from Ct, and a gun-grabber in his own right, was a master of the Charles Schumer lies and rhetoric at the time, note his sniveling about the "gunrunners" as if Century was not in a legitimate business, but was working to undermine the nation by arming youths, and bad people. A lot of the reforms in 1986 were very very necessary, as this case points out, although the MG making ban was a hell of a compromise, in my book.
  • Chronister v. Bryco Arms, 125 F.3d 624 (8th Cir. 1997)
    In this case the plaintiff won a judgment against Bryco Arms over their sale of, and failure to warn about, a model 59 9mm pistol that discharged when the slide was back, causing permanent hearing damage to the plaintiff, as he was not wearing hearing protection. The court upheld the verdict against Bryco, noting that the plaintiff's failure to wear hearing protection while shooting was a foreseeable misuse of the gun, so it was not the basis for an automatic verdict for Bryco. The court noted that Bryco could suggest to the jury that the shooter was contributorily negligent, as they did (and the jury found the plaintiff partly responsible for his injuries, and the judgment amount was reduced by a commensurate amount), but that it was foreseeable that a shooter would ignore the instruction to wear hearing protection. The case notes that a firearms expert for Federal Cartridge (maker of the ammo used in the pistol) bought 5 model 59 pistols for testing, and all jammed in one fashion or another between 20 and 50% of the time.
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