A federal appeals court has ruled 2-1 that Stephen Dearth’s challenge of a federal law that prevents citizens living abroad from buying firearms while visiting in the United States will now go to trial in federal district court. The suit’s full name is Stephen Dearth, et al v. Eric Holder, Jr., the latter being the former attorney general of the United States.
According to the Second Amendment Foundation, which is also named as a plaintiff, the case was originally filed in 2009. Dearth, who is a natural-born citizen living in Canada, brought the legal action because current federal law prohibits him from buying or even renting a gun for personal protection while back in this country. Background from the suit:
“Dearth is an American citizen who resides in Canada and no longer maintains a residence in the United States. In 2006 and again in 2007 Dearth attempted to purchase a firearm in the United States. On both occasions, he ‘could not provide a response to Question 13’ on account of his residing in Canada; therefore ‘the transaction was terminated.’ Compl. ¶¶ 22-23. Dearth alleges he still intends, if he may do so lawfully, to purchase firearms in the United States for the purposes of sporting and self-defense, and to store those firearms with his relatives in Ohio.”
The case had initially been dismissed by a federal district judge, but the three-judge panel overturned that decision.
Judge Raymond Randolph wrote for panel’s 2-1 majority, “Here there are too many unanswered questions regarding Dearth’s particular situation even though he seeks to mount an as applied challenge.”
Judge Karen Henderson dissented, writing that that court should affirm the constitutionality of a ban on the sale of a firearm to a nonresident citizen.
Click here to read a copy of the suit.