A top federal criminal lawyer must always be mindful of how new United States Supreme Court and federal Circuit Court precedent may impact pending and future federal criminal cases – including in the context of (18 U.S.C.) “922” federal gun cases. More specifically, how such precedent can be used in defense of the federal criminal lawyer’s own clients. The United States Supreme Court’s recent mid-summer 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 597 U.S. __, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), is perfect example of such a case. It potentially raises issues regarding the Constitutionality of “922” federal gun cases, or at least some of the sub-sections under 922 which frequently form the foundation for thousands of federal gun prosecutions.
In Bruen, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion that many have called the Court’s most significant Second Amendment decision in years. In Bruen, the Court considered the Constitutionality of a New York conceal and carry law which mandated that an individual was required to first prove “proper cause” before he or she could be issued a license to carry a concealed pistol or revolver out in public. The Court held that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In short, the Court found that it prevented law-abiding citizens who have the usual self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to have and bear arms. In so holding, the Court analyzed, inter alia, whether the New York law imposed a “comparable burden” as historical regulations did under the Second Amendment.
The Bruen court’s decision appears to open the door to federal criminal defense lawyers to argue that certain bases for section 922 federal gun prosecutions similarly do not pass Constitutional muster because there is not an appropriate historical basis for certain of the 922 sub-sections.
Leonard Trial Lawyers will continue to review, and hopefully apply on its clients’ behalf, the developing 922 precedent that seems certain to arise in light of the Court’s holding in Bruen.
Written by Michael Leonard
October 30, 2022