Arsenal Attorneys’ George L. Lyon, Jr and Matthew J. Bergstrom, on behalf of client Dick Heller (of District of Columbia v. Heller fame) and two other plaintiffs successfully challenged the District of Columbia’s so-called ghost gun statute. As a result, District residents will have the freedom to make their own firearms, subject to DC’s registration requirement and placing a serial number on the firearm.
The District has since 1976 banned the manufacture of a firearm in the city, a plainly unconstitutional prohibition. In 2019, the District passed its so-called ghost gun statute which criminalized the possession of “unfinished” receivers. According to Mr. Lyon, “DC so broadly defined a ghost gun that it likely unintentionally outlawed most polymer frame handguns, including the very Glock handguns the city issues to its own police officers.”
Arsenal Attorneys and Dick Heller determined to challenge the District’s plainly unconstitutional prohibition on self-made firearms. Mr. Heller ordered a Polymer 80 (unfinished receiver) kit and had the kit sent to one of the District’s FFLs in anticipation of registering it. The FFL in turn inquired of the Metropolitan Police Department as to how to handle the matter and was told that the kit was illegal and to send it back to the vendor.
In response, Mr. Heller sued in Federal District Court for the violation of his constitutional rights. Two other District residents who own polymer frame handguns sued on the grounds that the District law appeared to criminalize their possession of their legally acquired and registered polymer framed pistols.
The District, concluding that the law was indefensible, enacted temporary legislation to address the plaintiff’s claims. Among the changes the District made to its law was a provision allowing District residents to make their own firearms subject to registration and placing a serial number on the self-made firearm. Additionally, the District repealed the ban on unfinished receivers and amended its definition of “undetectable” firearm to avoid criminalizing the possession of polymer frame receivers.
The District’s City Council is currently considering a bill to permanently repeal the offending provisions.
As compensation for the denial of Mr. Heller’s civil rights, without admitting liability, the District paid the Heller Foundation $5,000, a nonprofit dedicated to education on gun rights and safety. The District also paid plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs in bringing the action in the amount of some $81,000.
Arsenal Attorneys is preparing additional litigation related to DC’s unconstitutional firearms regulations. If you are interested in becoming a plaintiff in one or more of these cases, please contact us.
Arsenal Attorneys is a nationwide law firm headquartered near Washington, DC in Fairfax, Virginia. The firm offers services in estate planning, criminal defense, civil litigation, business law, firearms law, and its proprietary Arsenal Gun Trust. George Lyon is licensed to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He was one of the plaintiffs in Palmer v. District of Columbia that forced DC to begin issuing concealed carry licenses and in the US Supreme Court's landmark Second Amendment decision, Heller, which legalized handguns in Washington, DC. Mr. Lyon is licensed by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the DC Concealed Carry License course including the renewal course and conducts the course monthly. His next class will be May 21-22. Class will be conducted online in light of continuing COVID 19 health issues, with the shooting portion of the course arranged by appointment. To sign up for his course, contact Mr. Lyon at email@example.com or at 202-669-0442.
By George L. Lyon, Jr
As you may have heard, the ATF on December 18, 2020, published a notice setting forth the factors it considers in classifying firearms equipped with a stabilization brace, sometimes called an arm brace. The importance of this classification is that it can mean the difference between a firearm equipped with such a brace being classified as a pistol and thus not subject to the National Firearms Act or as a short barrel rifle requiring registration and payment of a $200 tax. Violation of the requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA) is a felony potentially subjecting the offender to several years in prison and permanent loss of firearms rights.
By George L. Lyon, Esq.
My clients and students frequently request my analysis of the various self-defense insurance type products on the market, some of which are not technically insurance per se. My knowledge of this topic has benefited by Recoil magazine’s occasional comparison of these products as well as an informative video by attorney Andrew Branca, author of the highly recommended book Law of Self Defense. I will give you the results of my own review of these products below. Bear in mind, policies often change, so I recommend you perform your own due diligence at the time of your decision. I recommend my analytical framework as a guide.
It is important to understand that basic homeowner’s insurance even with umbrella insurance does not cover a self-defense shooting. First, these insurance products do not defend you from a criminal prosecution, and, second, they do not cover you civilly because a self-defense shooting is considered an intentional act. Homeowner’s coverage would apply if it were alleged that you negligently shot someone on the premises of your home. Some plaintiffs have made such allegations specifically to try to get within the coverage of homeowner’s policies.
With respect to self-defense insurance or insurance like products, a number of companies offer this type of service. The ones I am going to discuss here are in alphabetical order: Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (“ACLDN”); CCW Safe; Firearms Legal Protection (“Firearms Legal”) Second Call Defense (“Second Call”); United States Concealed Carry Association (“USCCA”) and U.S. Law Shield.
Arsenal Attorneys' Matthew Bergstrom will teach a seminar for lawyers on August 20 entitled "Firearms in Estate Administration: Legal Issues, Executor Liability, Transferring Title I and II Guns, Penalties--Understanding Gun Legal Designations, In-State and Out-of-State Transfers, Use of Gun Trusts." Mr. Bergstrom will be joined by attorneys Michael W. Zarlenga and Sam Hosey to deliver the program. This continuing legal education program is sponsored by Strafford Publications, and attendees may earn CLE credit as may be required by their state bar.
This CLE webinar will guide estate planners and administrators on managing the legal challenges of firearms in estate and trust administration. The panel will discuss federal gun laws and firearm designations, issues for beneficiaries inheriting guns, in-state and out-of-state transfers, and legal ownership. The panel will also review the use of trusts and other entities to transfer guns legally, and best practices to avoid mishaps in the administration of estates or trusts holding firearms.