It was recently brought to my attention that one of the very platforms for which Lone Star Gun Rights is pushing to get passed in Texas is already on trial. On April 13, 2016, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the Second Amendment Protection Act (SAPA) into law which nullified all federal firearms laws, including the National Firearms Act, so long as the weapon was manufactured, sold, and remained within the borders of the State of Kansas. Because of this law, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler were indicted after Cox manufactured and transferred suppressors to Kettler without NFA tax stamps. Here's what we know so far.
On October 6, 2015, a Grand Jury indicted the two on the following:
- Possession of an Unregistered Firearm 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d) - 3 Counts (Cox)
- Transferring a Firearm in Violation of the National Firearms Act 26 U.S.C. § 5861(e) - 5 Counts (Cox)
- Making a Firearm in Violation of the National Firearms Act 26 U.S.C. § 5861(f) - 1 Count (Cox)
- Engaging in Business as Dealer and Manufacturer of Firearms 26 U.S.C. § 5861(a) - 1 Count (Cox)
- Conspiracy 18 U.S.C. § 371 - 1 Count (Cox & Kettler)
- Making False Statements During a Federal Investigation 18 U.S.C. § 1001 - 1 Count (Kettler)
A Motion for Dismissal was filed on the grounds that because the suppressors were manufactured, transferred, and kept in the State of Kansas, they were exempt from any federal law since interstate commerce did not take place. This motion, however, was denied on May 10, 2016 and the trial officially began on November 8th, 2016. The case gets interesting because the constitutionality of SAPA has yet to be called into question by the court, but on October 26, 2016, the court did grant the U.S. Government a Motion in Limine, ruling that "any defense based on [SAPA] is not a valid legal defense.” This means that any testimony citing the Kansas law would not be admissible. This was a move by the U.S. Government to try and prevent the question of the law's constitutionality from arising because doing so would likely cause the NFA itself to come under constitutional scrutiny.
This, however, was a short-lived win for the U.S. Government. The day the trial began, the State of Kansas filed and was granted a Motion to Intervene. This means that the State of Kansas has injected themselves into the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2403(b) which dictates that the State has the right to intervene whenever "the constitutionality of any statute of that State affecting the public interest is drawn in question." Because of this, it is very likely that this case could go all the way up to the Supreme Court, making it a landmark for the Second Amendment.
As of right now, it is still a trial by jury in which the guilt or innocence of the defendants regarding the aforementioned criminal charges are being scrutinized, however, I am not sure as to what affect the State of Kansas' intervention will have on the proceedings. It is safe to assume that no matter the outcome of this trial, it will be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. When that happens, a 3-judge panel will examine the constitutionality of SAPA under Article I §8.3 of the Constitution (commonly called the commerce clause), the Second Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment. It could very likely call into question the constitutionality of the NFA itself. Once that appeal is ruled on by the panel, it will then get appealed to the Supreme Court where it will again undergo the same scrutiny, assuming they agree to hear the case.
It is vital to keep vigilant on who President-Elect Trump nominates to the Supreme Court. Any sort of question regarding their record on the Second Amendment should instantly be answered with a resounding voice of dissent from us. If we want to ensure that the Second Amendment is preserved, protected, defended, and restored, then it is imperative that the right Justices get placed on the Supreme Court. Stay glued to the news when nominees are presented and make your voices heard to your Senators. We cannot afford another John Roberts on a case like this one. We will do our best to keep you informed on this case. Please share this article with everyone you know on social media to raise awareness, and be sure to Like us on Facebook. Let's make the Second Amendment "shall not be infringed" again.