Henderson v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: May 18, 2015
  • Case #: 13-1487
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kagan, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

A court-ordered transfer of a felon’s firearms to a third party is not barred by 18 U.S.C. §922(g) if the court is reasonably sure the third party will not give the felon control over the firearms.

After pleading guilty to a felony, Petitioner was ordered to surrender all of his firearms to the FBI. Upon release from jail, Petitioner asked the FBI to give the guns to his friend, but the FBI denied the request. The district court denied Petitioner’s motion directing the FBI to give the guns to his wife or friend because the court concluded that this transaction was in violation of 18 U.S.C.§922(g), which prohibits felons from possessing firearms. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ruling, concluding the court-order transfer of firearms from the FBI to a third party is not barred by §922(g) as long as the Court is satisfied that the felon will not obtain direct or indirect control of the firearms.

The Court reasoned that §922(g) does not prohibit Petitioners right to sell the guns where Petitioner does not have control over the guns. Further, the Court reasons that the purpose of §922(g) is to prevent felons from possessing guns and preventing Petitioner’s right to alienate the guns does nothing to further this purpose. The Court focused on whether the felon has the capability to use the guns after the transfer. If a court finds that a felon will not possess or otherwise direct the use of the guns then §922(g) does not apply and the Court has the ability to transfer the guns to a third party.

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