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King v. Sessions

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 15, 2018

TIMOTHY KING, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SCHMEHL, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is the motion to dismiss of Defendants, Jefferson B. Sessions, III, Attorney General of the United States[1], and Thomas E. Brandon, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (hereinafter “Defendants”) (Docket No. 11). Plaintiff, Timothy King (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) has filed an opposition to the motion, and Defendants have filed a reply.

         Plaintiff's Complaint asserts an as-applied challenge to the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Having read the parties' briefing, and after oral argument, for the reasons that follow, I find that Plaintiff cannot rebut the presumption that he is disqualified from possessing a firearm. Therefore, I will grant the motion to dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         “Enacted in its earliest incarnation as the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, [18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)] initially covered those convicted of a limited set of violent crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping and burglary, but extended to both felons and misdemeanants convicted of qualifying offenses.” United States v. Booker, 644 F.3d 12, 24 (1st Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1538 (2010) (citations omitted). Particularly, restrictions provide that any person who “has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” may not possess firearms or ammunition. 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1). Further, the Federal Firearms Act also prohibits lying about material facts to obtain a firearm, stating:

Any person in connection with the acquisition or attempted acquisition of any firearm from a . . . licensed dealer . . . knowingly to make any false or fictitious oral or written statement or to furnish or exhibit any false, fictitious, or misrepresented identification, intended or likely to deceive such . . . dealer . . . with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale.”

18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6). A person guilty of violating § 922(g)(1) or § 922(a)(6) has committed a Class C felony and may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(a)(2), 3559(a)(3).

         On November 17, 1982, Plaintiff was tried and convicted in the Philadelphia Municipal Court for carrying firearms without a license in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106; carrying a firearm on a public street or place in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6108; unlawful sale of a firearm in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6111; sale of a firearm without a retail license in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6112; unlawfully loaning or lending a firearm in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6115; and criminal conspiracy in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A. §903. (See Compl., Exs. 1(a)and 1(b).) Plaintiff states that he “sold a firearm in June of 1982 without having the necessary Pennsylvania license. (Compl., ¶ 10.) He was sentenced to two years non-reporting probation and a $1, 000 fine. (Id.)

         Despite the fact that these state convictions disqualified him from purchasing a firearm, Plaintiff obtained a shotgun from a federal firearms licensee by falsely certifying that he was not a prohibited person. (See Defs' Memo; Ex. 1, p. 3.) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms then searched Plaintiff's home pursuant to a warrant and found Plaintiff to be in possession of twenty-one firearms. (Id., p. 4.) In November of 1992, Plaintiff pled guilty in federal court to three counts, false statement in the acquisition of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), receipt of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and possession of firearms by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Plaintiff believed that he was not prohibited from possessing a firearm at the time because he had worked with firearms in his time in the Army National Guard. (Compl., ¶ 14.) Plaintiff was sentenced to three years' probation with six months of home confinement, and a $1, 000 fine. (Compl., ¶ 15.)

         On February 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action, alleging that he “desires to purchase and possess a firearm for defense of his employees, business, family, home and self.” (Compl., ¶ 24.) Plaintiff's Complaint sets forth a cause of action for declaratory and injunctive relief for an “Interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(2)(B), 922(g)(1) in the Context of Specific State Convictions, ” and “Interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(2)(B), 922(g)(1) in the Context of a Federal §922(g)(1) Conviction Stemming From Prior State Misdemeanor Convictions.” (Compl., ¶¶ 31- 32, 34-35.) Plaintiff alleges: 1) his 1982 convictions cannot be the basis for a firearms disability because, at the time, they were all state misdemeanor convictions punishable by terms of imprisonment of two years or less; and 2) his 1992 felony conviction for violating § 922(g)(1) cannot be the basis for a firearms disability when the prohibition arose from his 1982 state misdemeanor convictions punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or less. (Compl., ¶¶ 31, 34.)

         Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint on September 12, 2017, and after multiple extensions allowing for a response and a reply brief, oral argument was held on this issue on December 6, 2017.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard when the facts alleged “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         The Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “it must ‘tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim;'” (2) “it should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3) “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.” Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 ...


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