Guns, Background Checks, Administrative Law, and the Sixth Circuit Michigan Case

The Sixth Circuit is considering a very interesting gun case; unfortunately, I haven’t been following it closely, largely because it’s a technical statutory and regulatory case rather than a Second Amendment case—but Prof. Robert Leider (George Mason) , who guest-blogged here on a different subject a few months ago, has been, and kindly offered this analysis: In gun control debates, the Second Amendment usually takes center stage. But more mundane questions of statutory interpretation and administrative law can have more impact on gun owners. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard oral argument in one such case, Gun Owners of America, Inc. v. Department of Justice . The appeal relates to a March 3, 2020 declaration by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that Michigan’s concealed pistol license holders are no longer exempt from the national instant background check before the sale of a firearm because the Michigan State Police do not adequately research previous criminal convictions to determine whether a license applicant is prohibited from possessing a firearm. (ATF also undertook a similar action against Alabama pistol permit holders.) Under the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, a federal firearms licensee (e.g., a gun store) must initiate a background check through the National Instant Check System before transferring a firearm. The law contains some exceptions, the most important of which is that a licensee may transfer a firearm to a person who has a permit that “was issued not more than […]

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