Van Der Hule v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 07-16-2014
  • Case #: 09-36008
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Judges Fletcher and Fisher
  • Full Text Opinion

Even though a felon has had some rights restored following completion of a felony sentence, further federal restriction on the right to purchase and possess a firearm is permitted unless those restored rights grant the convicted person full rights equal to a person never convicted of a felony.

Frank Van der hule was convicted of a felony in Montana. Following the completion of his sentence, his rights were restored by automatic operation of Montana law. In 2003, Van der hule attempted to purchase a firearm, and following his denial due to his felony conviction, filed suit seeking an order to force the Attorney General to approve the sale, and claiming that federal and state laws were depriving him of his right to purchase a firearm as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The district court found that Van der hule was precluded by federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm and has no constitutional right to possess a firearm due to his prior felony conviction which restricts his ability to hold a license to carry a concealed weapon, to which Van der hule filed this appeal. The Ninth Circuit held that the restriction on Van der hule, as a felon, to the right to possess a firearm was permitted due to the activation of the “unless” clause of the federal firearms statute. The panel reasoned that, although a felon has had some of their rights restored following the completion of a felony sentence, any restriction on how that felon is allowed to possess a firearm activates the “unless” clause of the federal firearms statute allowing for a felons denial to purchase a firearm. AFFIRMED.

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