September 28, 2022 – The domino effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen has commenced, as more and more federal courts issue opinions applying this historic precedent. While it remains unclear which federal and state laws will be found unconstitutional under Bruen, it does appear that the lower courts are finally enforcing the Second Amendment in response to the Bruen decision.

On September 19, 2022, in U.S. v. Quiroz, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas held that a federal statute—prohibiting those under felony indictment from obtaining a firearm—was unconstitutional. The defendant in this case had two felony charges pending when he attempted to purchase a pistol. After a “delayed” response from NICS, he was legally transferred the pistol. Eventually, however, NICS issued a response of “denied” and notified the ATF of the transfer. The federal government charged Mr. Quiroz with violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(n), the federal prohibition on the purchase of a firearm while under felony indictment, as well as misrepresenting this fact on the ATF 4473 form. The court noted that when a person is indicted, he generally does not have the opportunity to submit or rebut evidence presented to a grand jury. In fact, the court noted that in many states, a grand jury is not even required for an indictment. In reaching the conclusion that this statute was unconstitutional, the court noted it could find no historical example of a citizen’s constitutional rights being legally taken away without any due process protections. The court also stated “another reason that § 922(n) warrants skepticism is the historical misappropriation of law to pretextually and unlawfully disarm unfavored groups,” such as people of color or certain religions. The court concluded by stating “Bruen changed the legal landscape. The Bruen Court made the constitutional standard more explicit to eliminate asking judges to make difficult empirical judgments about the costs and benefits of firearms restrictions.”

On September 23, 2022, in Rigby v. Jennings, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware issued an opinion finding certain aspects of Delaware’s recently enacted gun control laws likely to be unconstitutional, resulting in a temporary restraining order prohibiting their enforcement until further proceedings. Plaintiffs self-manufactured various frames and firearms without markings required by the ATF for commercially made firearms, and wished to continue to do so. Plaintiffs filed an action for injunctive relief seeking to prohibit Delaware from enforcing multiple laws, including those prohibiting the possession and manufacture of unfinished frames and receivers, 11 Del. C. § 1459A(b), and “untraceable” firearms, 11 Del. C. § 1463(a), as violating their Second Amendment rights. While the court found that the statutes regulating the sale and transfer of “untraceable” firearms constitutional, it found that the statutes barring the manufacture and possession of such firearms burdened the rights protected by the Second Amendment. The court noted that Delaware’s argument that “laws tracking and restricting the possession of firearms date back to colonial times” was wholly unsupported by any historical references. The court held “it is [the state’s] burden to justify a Second Amendment burden as longstanding and [Delaware] has not put forth any evidence to meet [this] burden.” The court invited the parties to create a more comprehensive record before it ruled on the request for a permanent injunction.

Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor the line of cases applying the standard set forth in Bruen and how it is changing the landscape of federal and state laws restricting the manufacture and possession of firearms. If you have any questions about the above decisions, or the effect the Bruendecision has had on the rights protected by the Second Amendment, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.