United States District Court, District of Columbia
JORGE L. MEDINA, Plaintiffs,
JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS, III,  in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, Defendants.
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a decades-old felony conviction for making a false statement
on a bank loan application, Plaintiff Jorge Medina, a Los
Angeles area small business owner, is barred by federal law
from ever possessing a firearm. See 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). Medina contends that this ban violates the Second
Amendment as applied to him because he has been a responsible
and largely law-abiding citizen in the 25-plus years since
his conviction. While the Court has no cause to doubt
Medina's rehabilitation, it finds little support for his
as-applied challenge in the relevant Second Amendment
precedent. The Court will therefore grant the
government's motion to dismiss Medina's complaint.
Medina is a longtime resident of the Los Angeles area.
Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 5. In 1990, Medina made a false
statement on two loan applications to a local bank, inflating
his income five-fold in order to meet the qualification
standards. Id. ¶¶ 12, 17-19. Medina fessed
up to the falsifications upon being questioned by the FBI and
in November 1991 pled guilty to one count of making a false
statement to a federally-insured financial institution in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014. Id. ¶¶
21-22. Medina was sentenced to sixty days of home
confinement, a $10, 000 fine, and three years of probation
(which was terminated early). Id. ¶ 24. Despite
the relatively light sentence, Medina's conviction
disqualified him from possessing a gun because 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1) prohibits firearm possession by any person
convicted of “a crime punishable by a term exceeding
one year” and section 1014 carried a 30-year maximum
sentence. Id. ¶ 23.
attests to being a law-abiding citizen since his 1991
conviction, with one exception. In the mid-1990s, Medina
purchased a partnership in a hunting ranch in Wyoming, where
he occasionally hunted game. Id. ¶ 27. He later
applied for and obtained a series of Wyoming resident hunting
licenses. Id. ¶ 31. On the applications, Medina
listed the address of the ranch. Id. But that was
not sufficient under Wyoming law to establish individual
residency for the purpose of resident hunting licenses.
Id. ¶ 20. Medina claims he was unaware of the
law. Id. ¶ 32-33. In any case, after the
authorities learned of the issue and filed a criminal
information against Medina, he pled guilty to three
class-five misdemeanors covering each license he had
obtained. Id. ¶¶ 33, 37; see Wyo.
Stat. § 23-3-403(b). He was given a $2, 500 fine and his
hunting privileges were revoked for eight years. Id.
filed this suit in August 2016. He contends that the federal
felon-in-possession ban violates the Second Amendment as
applied to him because he has led a responsible and
law-abiding life since his convictions. The complaint thus
seeks an order declaring section 922(g)(1) unconstitutional
as applied and an injunction barring its enforcement against
Medina on the basis of his 1991 felony conviction. The
government has moved to dismiss Medina's complaint under
Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). It argues first that Medina
lacks standing, and thus the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, because California's firearm statute erects
an independent bar to Medina's ability to possess a gun.
And on the merits, the government submits that section
922(g)(1) passes constitutional muster both as a categorical
ban against possession of firearms by convicted felons and as
applied to Medina's particular circumstances. The Court
held a hearing on the motion on May 26, 2017.
“[f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction,
possessing only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute, ” Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059,
1064 (2013) (quotation marks omitted), they have “an
affirmative obligation to consider whether the constitutional
and statutory authority exist for [them] to hear each
dispute” brought before them, James Madison Ltd. ex
rel. Hecht v. Ludwig, 82 F.3d 1085, 1092 (D.C. Cir.
1996) (quotation marks omitted). If the “court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
of standing” constitute “defect[s] in subject
matter jurisdiction.” Haase v. Sessions, 835
F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The “plaintiff bears
the burden of . . . establishing the elements of standing,
” and each element “‘must be supported in
the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears
the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of
evidence required at the successive stages of the
litigation.'” Arpaio v. Obama, 797 F.3d
11, 19 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of
Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992)). Accordingly,
“[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim [of standing] that is plausible on its face.”
Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009)) (alterations in original).
“[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of [standing],
supported by mere conclusory statements, [will] not suffice,
” id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678) (second alteration in original), and the Court need not
“assume the truth of legal conclusions” nor must
it “‘accept inferences that are unsupported by
the facts set out in the complaint, '” id.
(quoting Islamic Am. Relief Agency v. Gonzales, 477
F.3d 728, 732 (D.C. Cir. 2007)).
survive a 12(b)(6) motion, a “complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A court
“accept[s] as true all of the allegations contained in
[the] complaint, ” disregarding “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action” and
“mere conclusory statements.” Id. Then,
the Court examines the remaining “factual content [to
determine if it may] draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Whether Medina has standing to bring his claim in federal
Supreme Court has established that the constitutional
requirement of standing involves three elements:
First, the plaintiff must have suffered an 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. Second, there must be a causal
connection between the injury and the conduct complained
of-the injury has to be fairly . . . trace[able] to the
challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e]
result [of] the independent action of some third party not
before the court. Third, it must be likely, as opposed to
merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a
Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61 (internal citation and
footnote omitted). “The party invoking federal
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing these elements.
. . . At the pleading stage, general factual allegations of
injury resulting from the defendant's conduct may
suffice, for on a motion to dismiss [the Court] presume[s]
that general allegations embrace those specific facts ...