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Court Rules Against Gun Owner in Second Amendment Test Case

By Robyn Hagan Cain on June 01, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government on Friday in a case that questioned that constitutionality of federal and state laws restricting the purchase and transportation of handguns across state lines.

Federal law prohibits anyone who is not a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector to transport or receive in his home state a gun purchased or obtained outside of the state. New York resident Angel Decastro intentionally violated that law when he bought a pistol in Florida in 2005 and took it back to New York, reports Courthouse News.

Decastro moved from Florida, where he was licensed to own a handgun, to New York in 2002 to help run his family's dry-cleaning business. He wanted a gun for protection after an altercation at the business, but he claims he never submitted a gun permit application in New York because an NYPD desk officer told him that he would never be approved.

The intervening facts between acquisition and arrest aren't terribly important, so we're going to skip them. All you need to know is that the cops eventually came across Decastro's gun, and charged him with violating 18 U.S.C. §922(a)(3), the aforementioned purchase/transport law.

Decastro moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that it violated his Second Amendment right to possess a gun for self-defense. He argued that §922(a)(3) was facially unconstitutional under District of Columbia v. Heller, (the D.C. gun ban case), and that New York City's restrictive licensing requirements were tantamount to a ban.

Neither the district court nor the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sympathized.

First, the Second Circuit noted that Decastro essentially argued that New York's licensing scheme is constitutionally defective, but he lacked standing to challenge the New York law because he failed to apply for a gun license in New York.

Next, the court rejected Decastro's argument that §922(a)(3) should be subject to strict scrutiny. The Second Circuit concluded that heightened scrutiny is only appropriate for laws that substantially burden the Second Amendment.

The court reasoned that § 922(a)(3) only minimally affects the ability to acquire a firearm, so it should not be subject to heightened scrutiny. Furthermore, §922(a)(3) does nothing to keep someone from purchasing a firearm in her home state.

Since §922(a)(3) does not burden Decastro's Second Amendment rights in a way to justify heightened scrutiny, the Second Circuit held that his facial challenge to the statute failed.

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