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SEEGARS v. ASHCROFT

January 14, 2004.

SANDRA SEEGARS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN D. ASHCROFT, Attorney General of the United States, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

The plaintiffs, five residents of the District of Columbia, have filed a complaint with this Court seeking "to vindicate the rights of residents of the District of Columbia to exercise the same rights accorded to American citizens in every State of the Union to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which [the plaintiffs allege] guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to keep handguns in the home for lawful defense of their families and other lawful purposes." Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 1. The defendants, John D. Ashcroft, the Attorney General of the United States ("Attorney General"), and Anthony A. Williams, the Mayor of the District of Columbia ("Mayor"), have both filed motions to dismiss the plaintiffs` complaint. The Attorney General asserts that because "[p]laintiffs have neither been prosecuted nor threatened with prosecution under the [challenged] statutes, nor have they even sought to obtain registration or licensing under the statutes[,]" they lack standing to pursue their claims and this case is therefore not ripe for review. Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Attorney General of the United States and Memorandum of Law in Support Thereof ("Att'y Page 2 Gen.'s Mot.") at 1-3. The Mayor, on the other hand, asserts that the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because, among other reasons, the Second Amendment does not guarantee individuals a constitutional right to possess firearms.*fn1 Defendant Anthony A. Williams' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant Williams' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint ("Mayor's Mot.") at 1-6. Upon consideration of the parties' written submissions, the oral arguments of counsel,*fn2 and for the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the plaintiffs' claims challenging the District of Columbia's statutes prohibiting the possession of pistols are non-justiciable and therefore must be dismissed. However, the Court finds that plaintiff Gardine Hailes' challenges to the District of Columbia statute which requires that she keep her shotgun either unloaded, disassembled or bound by a trigger lock are legally distinct from the plaintiffs' challenges to the District of Columbia's statutes prohibiting the possession of pistols. Thus, the Court must consider whether Ms. Hailes has a viable Second Amendment claim. For the reasons outlined below, the Court concludes that the plaintiff is unable to maintain a Second Amendment challenge to the requirement regarding how she must maintain her legally possessed firearm, and, in any event, the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia. Accordingly, Ms. Hailes' challenges must also be dismissed. Page 3

I. Factual Background

  As mentioned above, the plaintiffs are all resident of the District of Columbia. Plaintiff Sandra Seegars is a Commissioner of the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission and an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. Compl. ¶ 22. Ms. Seegars allegedly "resides in a high crime neighborhood, has been a crime victim, and wishes to obtain a pistol to defend herself in her home." Id. Plaintiff Gardine Hailes is an office manager and a former television show host who "currently possesses in her home a registered shotgun which she keeps bound by a trigger lock." Compl. ¶ 23. According to Ms. Hailes, her home and her neighbor's home have been burglarized and she wishes to "remove the trigger lock when she deems it necessary to defend herself in her home . . . [and] also wishes to obtain a pistol to defend herself in her home." Id. Plaintiff Absalom F. Jordan, Jr., is an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and a National Rifle Association Certified Firearms Instructor. Compl. ¶ 24. Mr. Jordan purportedly "is a victim of [an] attempted armed robbery[,] . . . [lives in] a major drug area[, and] is involved in efforts to expel drug dealers from [his] neighborhood." Id. Mr. Jordan also wishes to obtain a pistol "and keep it at his residence for self protection." Id. Plaintiff Carmela B. Brown is a writer and an actor and claims that she "resides in a high crime neighborhood rife with open-air drug trafficking and prostitution, and wishes to obtain a pistol to defend herself in her home." Compl. ¶ 25. Finally, plaintiff Robert N. Hemphill is a retired postman and "wishes to obtain a pistol to defend himself in his home." Compl. ¶ 26.

  The barrier to the plaintiffs' desires to legally possess pistols in the District of Columbia is section 7-2502.01 of the District of Columbia Code, which prohibits the possession of any firearm within the District of Columbia "unless the person or organization holds a valid Page 4 registration `certificate for the firearm."*fn3 D.C. Code § 7-2502.01 (2001). Firearm registration certificates, which maybe issued under this statute to organizations involved in law enforcement, are not necessary for: (1) individuals involved in law enforcement or the armed forces while on duty, (2) a licensed dealer if such a firearm is acquired and kept with respect to that business, and (3) any nonresident of the District of Columbia "participating in any lawful recreational firearm-related activity in the District. . . ." Id. Furthermore, and of particular importance in this case, section 7-2502.02 of the District of Columbia Code states that "[a] registration certificate shall not be issued for a . . . [p]istol not validly registered to the current registrant in the District prior to September 24, 1976. . . ." D.C. Code § 7-2502.02 (2001). If the Chief of Police determines "that an application for a registration certificate should be denied . . . [he] shall notify the applicant . . . of the proposed denial . . ., briefly stating the reason or reasons therefor." D.C. Code § 7-2502.10 (2001). A notice of the denial must then be served on the applicant, who

 
shall have 15 days from the date the notice is served in which to submit further evidence in support of the application . . .; provided, that if the applicant does not make such a submission within 15 days from the date of service, the applicant . . . shall be deemed to have conceded the validity of the reason or reasons stated in the notice, and the denial of revocation shall become final.
Id. If the applicant timely submits further evidence in support of the application, the Chief of Police has ten days to serve upon the applicant a notice of his final decision. Id.

  The Chief's decision shall become effective at the expiration of the time within which to file a notice of appeal pursuant to the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act . . . or, if such a notice of appeal is filed, at Page 5 the time the final order or judgment of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals becomes effective.

 Id. The prohibition against carrying firearms is set forth in Title 22 of the District of Columbia Code. Section 22-4504(a) of the Code provides, in part, that:
No person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, without a license pursuant to District of Columbia law. . . . Whoever violates this section shall be punished as provided in § 22-4515, except that:
(1) A person who violates this section by carrying a pistol, without a license issued pursuant to District of Columbia law, . . . in a place other than the person's dwelling place, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both. . . .*fn4
D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) (2001). Section 22-4515 of the District of Columbia Code provides: "Any violation of any provision of this chapter for which no penalty is specifically provided shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both." D.C. Code § 22-4515 (2001).

  The plaintiffs also challenge District of Columbia Code § 7-2507.02, which provides that "each registrant shall keep any firearm in his possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device unless such firearm is kept at his place of business, or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within the District of Columbia." D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 (2001). A violation of D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. See D.C. Code § 7-2507.06 (2001). Page 6

  II. Standard of Review

  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) requires the plaintiffs to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the court has jurisdiction to entertain their claims. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001) (holding that while the plaintiff has the burden of establishing the court's jurisdiction, the court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority."); Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. United States Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp.2d 15, 18 (D.D.C. 1998); Darden v. United States, 18 Cl. Ct. 855, 859 (Cl. Ct. 1989). While the Court must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993), because the plaintiffs have the burden of establishing that the Court has jurisdiction, the "`plaintiff[s'] factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police, 185 F. Supp.2d at 13-14 (citation omitted). Finally, the Court notes that in deciding a 12(b)(1) motion, it is well established in this Circuit that a court is not limited to the allegations in the complaint but may consider material outside of the complaint in an effort to determine whether the court has jurisdiction in the case. See EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir. 1992); Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987); Hohri v. United States, 782 F.2d 227, 241 (D.C. Cir. 1986); Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police. 185 F. Supp.2d at 14. Page 7

  III. Legal Analysis

  Interestingly, the defendants in this case seek dismissal of the case on two separate and distinct grounds. The Attorney General asserts that the plaintiffs' claims are non-justiciable and this case should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the statutory provisions under attack and their claims are not ripe for review. In addition, in a footnote, the Attorney General states:
[i]t is the position of the United States that the Second Amendment `protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to possess and bear their own firearms, subject to reasonable restrictions designed to prevent possession by unfit persons or to restrict the possession of types of firearms that are particularly suited to criminal misuse.'
Att'y Gen.'s Mot. at 13 n.11 (quoting Brief for Respondent in Opposition to Petition for a Writ of Certiorari at 19-20 n.3, United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203 (5th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 536 U.S. 907 (2002)). On the other hand, the Mayor seeks dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual a constitutional right to possess firearms. Mayor's Mot. at 1-6. In Ex Parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506 (1868), the Supreme Court stated that
 
[w]ithout jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause. And this is not less clear upon authority than upon principle.
Id. at 514. Accordingly, the Court must first determine whether it has jurisdiction to entertain the plaintiffs' challenges. Page 8

 (1) Are the Plaintiffs' Preenforcement Challenges to the District of Columbia Statutes Regulating the Possession and Maintenance of Firearms Justiciable?

  In Mahorner v. Bush, 224 F. Supp.2d 48 (D.D.C. 2002) (Walton, J.), aff'd, No. 02-5335, 2003 WL 349713, at *1 (D.C. Cir.) (per curiam), cert. denied, 123 S.Ct. 2654 (2003), this Court recently reiterated that:
[i]t is a fundamental axiom that pursuant to Article III of the Constitution, federal courts are vested with the power of judicial review extending only to `Cases' and `Controversies.' U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. As a result of the Constitution's `case-or-controversy requirement, the courts have developed a series of principles termed `justiciability doctrines,' among which are standing[,] ripeness, mootness, and the political question doctrine.'
Id. at 49 (quoting National Treasury Employees Union v. United States, 101 F.3d 1423, 1427 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (citing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984))). In this case, two of these justiciability doctrines are implicated: standing and ripeness.

  For a plaintiff to have Article III standing to bring a claim in federal court, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that he or she has suffered "an (1) `injury in fact — an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical' — (2) which is `fairly traceable' to the challenged act, and (3) `likely' to be `redressed by a favorable decision.'" Id. at 49-50 (quoting National Treasury Employees, 101 F.3d at 1427 (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992))). However, even if these

  requisites for Article III standing are present, a federal court may still deny standing under certain `prudential' principles. Standing may be denied on prudential grounds, for example, to litigants who present abstract questions of wide public significance that would more appropriately be addressed by the representative branches of government. . . . Page 9

 Navegar, Inc. v. United States, 103 F.3d 994, 998 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). In Navegar, Inc. v. United States, the District of Columbia Circuit explained that
[a] related component of justiciability which is particularly relevant in the context of actions for preenforcement review of statutes is `ripeness,' which focuses on the timing of the action rather than on the parties seeking to bring it. In deciding whether a case is ripe for adjudication, federal courts generally consider the hardship to the parties of withholding court resolution (a factor that overlaps with the `injury in fact' facet of [the] standing doctrine), and the fitness of the issues for judicial decision (a factor that resembles the prudential concerns applied in the standing context). By refusing to hear disputes which are not yet ripe, federal courts avoid becoming entangled in `abstract disagreements,' enhance judicial economy, and ensure that a record adequate to support an informed decision exists when the case is heard.
Id. The District of Columbia Circuit also noted that "[f]ederal courts most frequently find preenforcement challenges justiciable when the challenged statutes allegedly `chill' conduct protected by the First Amendment, but preenforcement challenges have been heard outside of the First Amendment context as well." Id. at 999 (citations omitted).

  Here, the plaintiffs` claims amount to a preenforcement challenge, as they have "neither been prosecuted nor threatened with prosecution under the [D.C.] statutes," and, except for one of the plaintiffs,*fn5 they do not even own a pistol and have never applied for a registration certificate for a pistol under the governing statutes. Att'y Gen.'s Mot. at 1. In Navegar. the District of Columbia Circuit stated that

  [e]ven when the criminal statute that a litigant challenges has not yet been enforced against her, the challenger's claim may be justiciable if the challenger can demonstrate that she faces a threat of prosecution under the statute which is Page 10 credible and immediate, and not merely abstract or speculative. In the proper circumstances, such threats of enforcement can simultaneously ripen a preenforcement challenge and give the threatened party standing.

 103 F.3d at 998 (emphasis added) (citing Babbitt v. United Farm Workers Nat'l Union 442 U.S. 289, 298-99 (1979); American Library Ass'n v. Barr, 956 F.2d 1178, 1196 (D.C. Cir. 1992)). This is because

 
[a] credible threat of imminent prosecution can injure the threatened party by putting her between a rock and a hard place — absent the availability of preenforcement review, she must either forego possibly lawful activity because of her well-founded fear of prosecution, or willfully violate the statute, thereby subjecting herself to criminal prosecution and punishment.
Id. (citing Babbitt 442 U.S. at 298-99).

  The Circuit Court's analysis in Navegar is particularly helpful in resolving whether the plaintiffs in this case have standing to assert their preenforcement challenges. In Navegar. the plaintiffs challenged certain provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 ("Crime Control Act"), Pub. L. No. 103-322, 108 Stat. 1796, which proscribed the

 
`manufacture, transfer, or possess[ion of] a semiautomatic assault weapon,' and defined `semiautomatic assault weapon' to include `any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as . . . INTRATECTECT-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and . . . revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12.'
Navegar, 103 F.3d at 997 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(30)(A), 922(v)(1)). The Crime Control Act also defines a "semiautomatic weapon" to include "semiautomatic pistols that have `an ability to accept a detachable magazine' and at least two of five other specified characteristics." Id. (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(30)(C)). In addition, the Crime Control Act outlaws "the transfer or possession of any `large capacity ammunition feeding device,' which . . . [is] defined to include Page 11 ammunition magazines manufactured after the date of enactment of the Act which can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition." Id (citing 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(31), 922(w)(1)). Under the Act, "[u]nits lawfully possessed on the effective date of the Act are `grandfathered,' meaning they may lawfully be transferred and possessed after the Act's passage." Id. (citing 18 U.S.C. § 922(v)(2),

  Following the enactment of the Crime Control Act, the plaintiffs, two federally-licensed firearms manufacturers — Navegar, Inc. (doing business as "Intratec") and Penn Arms, Inc. — were visited by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ("ATF")*fn6 on the same day the Crime Control Act became effective. Id. The agents "informed officers of these companies of the prohibitions [contained in the Crime Control Act], and gave notice that they planned to conduct inventories of the weapons that would be `grandfathered' under the Act. Over the next two days, ATF inspection agents conducted these inventories."Id. Ultimately, "the ATF sent a letter to [the plaintiffs] and other firearms manufacturers which summarized the [Act's] prohibitions." Id. The district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiffs' "complaint did not set forth a justiciable controversy as required by Article III of the United States Constitution, because the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that they faced a genuine `threat of prosecution.'" Id. at 996-97. The Circuit Court separated the appellants' claims into two categories: (1) those claims that challenged portions of the Crime Control Act that refer to specific brand names and models, and (2) those claims that challenged portions of the Crime Control Act that generally identify prohibited materials by Page 12 characteristics. Id. at 999. Addressing the challenge to the Crime Control Act's provisions that refer to specific brand names and models, the Navegar Court found that [t]he most important circumstance that the district judge overlooked

 
[was] that the Act in effect singles out the appellants as its intended targets, by prohibiting weapons that only the appellants make[, i.e., INTRATECTECT-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and . . . revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the street sweeper and striker 12].
Id. at 1000. this was significant because "if these provisions of the statute are enforced at all, they will be enforced against these appellants for continuing to manufacture and sell specified weapons. . . ." Id. The Circuit Court went on to comment that
 
[t]o conclude that the appellants face no credible threat of prosecution under these portions of the Act, we would have to believe that the government would enact a widely publicized law targeting products that only the appellants make, send its agents to the appellants' facilities on the day of enactment to inform them of the law's prohibitions and to begin quarantining `grandfathered' units, and soon thereafter remind appellants of the provisions of the Act by letter, but then sit idly by while the appellants continued to manufacture the outlawed weapons. To imagine that the government would conduct itself in so chimerical a fashion would be to declare in effect that federal courts may never, in the absence of an explicit verbal `threat,' decide preenforcement challenges to criminal statutes. This has never been the law. To require litigants seeking resolution of a dispute that is appropriate for adjudication in federal court to violate the law and subject themselves to criminal prosecution before their challenges may be heard would create incentives that are perverse from the perspective of law enforcement, unfair to the litigants, and totally unrelated to the constitutional or prudential concerns underlying the doctrine of justiciability.
Id. at 1000-01.

  While the Navegar Court found that the appellants had standing to challenge the Crime Control Act's provisions that referenced and specifically targeted the weapons manufactured only by the appellants, it also held that the appellants lacked standing to challenge the second category of claims, i.e., those that referred to the generic portions of the Act. Id. In this regard, the Court Page 13 concluded that the threat of prosecution under the generic provisions of the Crime Control Act was "too remote and speculative" because, while

 
appellants can point to some of the same circumstances that we found relevant to the justiciability of their challenges to the portions of the Act that name individual weapons, including the high-profile nature of their business and the publicity accorded to the Act, the visits by the ATF agents, and the letter from the ATF[,] . . . they cannot invoke the one factor that we found most significant in our analysis of the other challenges — the statute's own identification of particular products manufactured only by the appellants. In the absence of this factor, the threat of prosecution becomes far less imminent, and these parties' claims to standing concomitantly much weaker. These generic portions of the Act could be enforced against a great number of weapon manufacturers or distributors, and although the government has demonstrated its interest in enforcing the Act generally, nothing in these portions indicates any special priority placed upon preventing these parties from engaging in specified conduct.
Id. at 1001-02.

  The Circuit Court's opinion in Navegar comports with decisions of other circuits. In San Diego County Gun Rights Committee v. Reno, 98 F.3d 1121 (9th Cir. 1996), a case that also involved a challenge to the Crime Control Act, the Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs' alleged injuries were not "actual or imminent" or "concrete and particularized" enough to confer standing. Id. at 1127. The plaintiffs — the San Diego County Gun Rights Committee, the San Diego Militia, the president of the San Diego Militia, a licensed federal firearms dealer, and a retired Marine Corps officer — all challenged the Crime Control Act, although none had been prosecuted, arrested or incarcerated for violating the Act. Id. at 1124. Most notably for the purposes of this case, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs were unable to bring a preenforcement challenge to the statute because they were unable to show a "genuine threat of imminent prosecution[.]"Id. at 1126 (citations omitted). This was due to the plaintiffs' failure to Page 14 even "identify a general threat of prosecution made against them. [In fact the p]laintiffs concede[d] that they ha[d] not been threatened with arrest, prosecution or incarceration." Id. at 1127. The Ninth Circuit noted that while "[a] specific warning of an intent to prosecute under a criminal statute may suffice to show imminent injury and confer standing[,] . . . a general threat of prosecution is not enough to confer standing." Id. (citations omitted). In San Diego County Gun Rights, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the "[p]laintiffs [] established at most a possibility of their eventual prosecution under the Crime Control Act, which is clearly insufficient to establish a `case or controversy.'"Id. at 1128 (citations omitted). In addition, the Ninth Circuit pointed out that the plaintiffs had "merely assert[ed] that they 'wish and intend to engage in activities prohibited by [the Act]' . . . [and thus] failed to show the high degree of immediacy that is necessary for standing under these circumstances." Id. at 1127 (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 564-65)) (emphasis added). The San Diego County Gun Rights Court also noted that the "existence of a `chilling effect' . . . has never been considered a sufficient basis, in and of itself, for prohibiting . . . [government] action. The only exception to this general rule has been the relaxed standards for overbreadth facial challenges involving protected speech."Id. at 1129 (citations omitted) (alteration in original).

  The Sixth Circuit has also addressed a preenforcement challenge to the Crime Control Act. In National Rifle Association of America v. Magaw, 132 F.3d 272 (6th Cir. 1997), the Sixth Circuit considered s challenge to the Crime Control Act advanced by several groups of plaintiffs, including manufacturers, firearms dealers and individuals.*fn7 Addressing the Page 15 manufacturers and firearms dealers first, the Magaw Court noted that its decision that these plaintiffs had standing was "consistent with the opinion in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Navegar. . . [,]" 132 F.3d at 283, as it found that these plaintiffs "demonstrated sufficient injury-in-fact to confer standing" not only because of economic harm that they would incur with the termination of the manufacturing and sale of the prohibited weapons, Id., at 281-82, but also because they would face "serious criminal penalties." Id. at 283. The Magaw Court also found that the plaintiffs' challenge was ripe for review because "actual or imminent enforcement is not always a prerequisite in non-First Amendment cases, if the statute creates a `present harm,' such as substantial economic injury."Id. at 285. Looking to the Supreme Court's decision in Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136 (1967), overruled on other grounds, Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99 (1977), for guidance, the Sixth Circuit evaluated the plaintiffs' challenge by examining the "fitness of the issues for judicial decision and the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration." Id. The Magaw Court found that it had before it "a classic example of when pre-enforcement review must be granted" not only because of the well-founded fear of prosecution as explained in Navegar. id. at 288-90, but also because "[a]bsent the availability of pre-enforcement review, these plaintiffs must either terminate a line of business, make substantial expenditures in order to comply with the Act, or willfully violate the statute and risk serious criminal penalties." Id. at 287. Notably, however, the Magaw Court found that the individual plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. Id. at 293-94. The Sixth Circuit, stating that Page 16 the economic harm rationale underlying its finding that the manufacturers and dealers had standing was absent with respect to the individual plaintiffs, observed that
[t]he individual plaintiffs aver that they `desire' and `wish' to engage in certain possibly prohibited activities, but are `restrained' and `inhibited' from doing so. They allege that they `are unable and unwilling, in light of the serious penalties threatened for violation of the statute, to obtain and possess the firearms and large capacity ammunition feeding devices prohibited by the statute.' Although the standing requirement of an injury-in-fact is fairly lenient and may include a wide variety of economic, aesthetic, environmental, and other harms, the individual plaintiffs herein allege merely that they would like to engage in conduct, which might be prohibited by the statute, without indicating how they are currently harmed by the prohibitions other than their fear of prosecution. Plaintiffs' assertions that they `wish' or `intend' to engage in proscribed conduct is not sufficient to establish an injury-in-fact under Article III. The mere possibility of criminal sanctions applying does not in and of itself create a case or controversy.
Id. at 293. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The Magaw Court went on to note that the individual plaintiffs' claim that the Crime Control Act had a chilling effect on their ability to purchase the prohibited weapons did not establish standing because
 
[e]very criminal law, by its very existence, may have some chilling effect on personal behavior. That is the reason for its passage.' Doe v. Durling, 782 F.2d 1202, 1206 (4th Cir. 1986). . . . Except for cases involving core First Amendment rights, the `existence of a `chilling effect'. . . has never been considered a sufficient basis, in and of itself, for prohibiting ` [government action]. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 51 (1971).
Id. at 294. Finally, the Sixth Circuit commented that

  [p]laintiffs' allegations of fear of prosecution, which thwarts their desire to possess or transfer prohibited products, affects not only the named plaintiffs, but also anyone desiring to possess the products proscribed by the Crime Control Act. The Supreme Court has refrained from adjudicating `generalized grievances,' pervasively shared. Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 474-75 (1982). The individualized plaintiffs' alleged harm amounts to no more than a `generalized grievance' shared in substantially equal measure by . . . a large class of citizens,' and thus does not warrant the exercise of jurisdiction. Warth Page 17 v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499 (1975).

 Id

  Here, the plaintiffs contend that they "are in a situation similar to those in" Peoples Rights Organization. Inc. v. Columbus, 152 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 1998). See Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Attorney General of the United States ("Pls.' Opp'n to Att'y Gen.'s Mot.") at 22. The Court cannot agree with this position. In Peoples Rights Organization, the plaintiffs, an organization and two of its members, brought a preenforcement challenge to a Columbus, Ohio city ordinance that prohibited the sale or possession of all assault weapons.*fn8 152 F.3d at 527-28. The Sixth Circuit there began its analysis by examining its recent decision in Magaw, 132 F.3d 272, and concluded that its finding that the plaintiff had standing was consistent with the conclusions reached in Magaw, As explained above, in Magaw, three groups of plaintiffs challenged the Crime Control Act. The Peoples Rights Organization Court observed that the Magaw Court found that the firearms manufacturers and dealers had standing because of "substantial economic hardship," but that the two other groups, the individual plaintiffs and the associations, lacked standing because they suffered no injury-in-fact, as they simply alleged "that they `desire[d]' and `wish[ed]' to engage in certain possibly prohibited activities, but are `restrained' and `inhibited' from doing so." Peoples Rights Org., 152 F.3d at 529 (quoting Magaw, 132 F.3d at 293). On the other hand, in Peoples Rights Organization, the individual plaintiffs, id. at 528, and a "large number [of the organization's] members who reside[d] in Columbus . . . possess[ed], display[ed], s[old], l[oaned], or acquire[d] semiautomatic Page 18 rifles, handguns, shotguns, and parts." Id. at 526. The complaint alleged that the individual plaintiffs, id. at 528, and the organization's "members [were] unable to determine whether such firearms and parts are `assault weapons' under the Columbus ordinance[,]" id. at 526, and accordingly they had failed to register their firearms as authorized by the ordinance's grandfather clause. Id. at 528. The Sixth Circuit found that the plaintiffs had standing to pursue their vagueness challenge to the Columbus City ordinance, which was "not subject to any type of clarifying interpretation by a local administrative agency[,]" id. at 530, because they were able to show "the significant possibility of future harm" as they were unsure of whether the weapons they currently possessed were prohibited. Id. at 530-31. Thus, because the Peoples Rights Organization plaintiffs could not and had no means of determining whether their weapons were prohibited, they faced a choice of "either possess[ing] their firearms in Columbus and risk prosecution under the City's law, or, alternatively, they c[ould] store their weapons outside the City, depriving themselves of the use and possession of the weapons." Id. at 529.

  Such is not the case here. Not only are the District of Columbia statutes not being challenged on vagueness grounds, which if was the case would present the same need for judicial interpretation as in Peoples Rights Organization, but the immediacy and reality of future harm found to exist in Peoples Rights Organization is absent here, as was also the situation in Magaw. The Peoples Rights Organization Court found that the plaintiffs there had standing because they currently possessed firearms that were located in the city and possibly covered by the Columbus City ordinance, which is markedly different from the circumstances in Magaw and in this case, where the individual plaintiffs simply wish or desire to possess prohibited firearms within this jurisdiction. Thus, the plaintiffs in Peoples Rights Organization did not have the same type of Page 19 "generalized grievances" shared not only by the "named plaintiffs" in Magaw, "but also anyone desiring to possess the products proscribed by the Crime Control Act." 132 F.3d at 294. And, as the Magaw Court noted, "[t]he Supreme Court has refrained from adjudicating `generalized grievances,' pervasively shared." Id. (citing Valley Forge, 454 U.S. at 474-75).

  (A) The Plaintiffs' Challenges to the District of Columbia Statutory Regulation of the Possession of Firearms

  In this case, the plaintiffs have suffered no injury as a result of the District of Columbia's proscriptive gun control statutes. First, they are unable to point to any "credible threat of imminent prosecution. . . ." Navegar, 103 F.3d at 998. While this Court noted during the oral argument on the defendants' motions to dismiss that the government actively enforces the prohibition against the possession of pistols in the District of Columbia, case law is clear and unequivocal that for a plaintiff to have standing to pursue a preenforcement challenge outside of the First Amendment context, the threat of prosecution must be imminent. See Magaw, 132 F.3d at 279; Navegar, 103 F.3d at 998; San Diego County Gun Rights, 98 F.3d at 1126; Duling, 782 F.2d at 1206 (noting that to establish standing, "[a] litigant must show more than the fact that state officials stand ready to perform their general duty to enforce [the] laws[.]") (citing Poe v. Ullman, 367 U.S. 497, 501 (1961); Watson v. Buck, 313 U.S. 387, 399 (1941)). A generalized grievance, which is presumably shared with many other citizens of the District of Columbia, without an imminent threat of prosecution or another type of injury-in-fact (i.e., economic harm), is not sufficient to confer standing to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs here stand in the same footing as the individual plaintiffs in Magaw and each of the plaintiffs in the San Diego County Gun Rights case, as they each simply state that they desire or wish to obtain pistols that they would Page 20 possess in the District of Columbia. See Compl. ¶¶ 22-26. These assertions are clearly insufficient to establish injury-in-fact under Article III.

  Second, the plaintiffs' claims are not ripe for review because, as indicated above, only one of the plaintiffs has ever even applied for a registration certificate.*fn9 Although the plaintiffs suggest that pursuing registrations would be futile,*fn10 see Pls.' Opp'n to Att'y Gen.'s Mot. at 27-31, the plaintiffs cannot avoid pursuing the existing regulatory process. Cf. Poulos v. New Hampshire, 345 U.S. 395, 409 & n.13 (1953) (noting that an individual cannot use futility as a defense to a criminal prosecution when he has failed to apply for a license and that the proper course of action was to "seek[] a review in the civil courts of the licensing authority's refusal to issue him a license."). Here, as stated above, the District of Columbia Code provides a formal review process if an applicant is denied a registration certificate for a firearm. See D.C. Code § 7-2502.10. And, particularly important in this case, section 7-2507.09 of the District of Columbia Code provides that "[t]he provisions of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act ("DCAPA") (§ 2-501 et seq.) shall apply to each proceeding, decision, or other administrative action specified in this unit. . . ." Thus, the plaintiffs are able to challenge a denial of their applications for registration certificates under the DCAPA and raise constitutional Page 21 challenges to the District of Columbia's enactment and enforcement of the statutes at issue in this lawsuit pursuant to this statute. See, e.g., McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744 (D.C. 1978) (plaintiffs challenged the Firearms Control Regulations Act under both the DCAPA and the United States Constitution). Moreover, applying the criteria for assessing ripeness as set forth in Abbott Labs, 387 U.S. at 149, further demonstrates that this case is not ripe for review. The plaintiffs are unable to establish any hardship that they would sustain by utilizing the prescribed administrative process and awaiting an actual case or controversy should their applications be denied. Furthermore, the District of ...


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