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Lawsuit Filed Against Eric Holder, ATF Director After ‘Overreaching’ Law Prevents D.C. Residents From Buying Handgun in Texas

Image source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

When Washington, D.C. residents Ambeau and Andrew Hanson tried to buy a handgun from the Texas gun shop owned by Fredric Russell Mance, Jr., Mance wouldn't sell because of a federal law preventing interstate handgun sales -- a ban that does not apply to rifles and shotguns.

TINLEY PARK, IL - JUNE 16: A customer shops for a handgun at Freddie Bear Sports on June 16, 2014 in Tinley Park, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Mance wanted to make the sale, and the Hansons wanted to buy at a lower price than what they could get in the District of Columbia, where there is only one federally licensed firearms dealer – which means higher prices, according to federal lawsuit filed in Fort Worth, Texas, by a gun-rights group.

The lawsuit names Attorney General Eric Holder and the B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are the co-defendants. Mance and the two D.C. residents are also part of the suit.

The Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, or CCRKBA, is also a plaintiff. The lawsuit is funded by its affiliate, the Second Amendment Foundation.

“It is overreaching, if not downright silly, in today’s environment with the federal instant background check system to perpetuate a prohibition on interstate handgun purchases that has outlived its usefulness,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “If a law-abiding citizen can clear a background check and legally purchase a handgun in his own state, he would pass the same background check just across the border in another state.”

“Federal law allows for interstate long gun sales, as long as the dealer follows the law, so what’s the logic of the federal government banning interstate handgun sales?” Gottlieb added. “Some states allow for, or even welcome, interstate handgun sales, so what’s the federal government doing?”

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claims that the law prohibiting someone who lives in one state from purchasing a handgun in another state inhibits competition and stops a national handgun market. The result is harmful to consumers, the plaintiffs say.

“Americans are free to purchase rifles and shotguns across state lines, so long as those transactions comply with the laws of the seller's and purchaser's states,” the 11-page lawsuit states, according to Courthouse News. “But under federal law, no American may lawfully purchase a handgun outside his or her state of residence. This prohibition plainly reduces competition, raises prices, and limits consumers' choices in the handgun market.”

That competitive market is available for handguns, the lawsuit says.

“Federal law with respect to interstate rifle and shotgun sales provides a ready example of a more carefully tailored alternative, prohibiting sales that violate state law—and permitting those that do not,” the complaint states. “There is no need to criminalize the entire interstate handgun market.”

(H/T: Courthouse News)

Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter

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