RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: District Court of Lincoln County
DOCKET NO.: 74-5566
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
CITATION: 423 US 212 (1976)
ARGUED: Nov 04, 1975
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1976
Robert B. Reich -
Thomas A. Schaffer - for petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Barrett v. United StatesAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 04, 1975 in Barrett v. United States
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 13, 1976 in Barrett v. United States
Warren E. Burger:
Mr. Justice Blackmun has an opinion for announcement.
Harry A. Blackmun:
This is as 74-5566 Barrett against the United States.
It comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
It raises the issue whether a provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 which is Section 922 (h) of Title 18 of the code, making it unlawful for a convicted felon to receive any firearm which has been shipped or transported in interstate commerce has application to a convicted felon's intrastate purchase from a local retail dealer of a firearm that previously, but independently had been transported in interstate commerce.
Petitioner Barrett in 1967 was convicted of a felony in a Kentucky state court.
Five years later, he purchased 32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver from a Western Auto Store in Booneville, Kentucky, where he lived.
The weapon had been manufactured in Massachusetts and then shipped to a distributor in North Carolina and then received by the Kentucky dealer from the North Carolina distributor.
Barrett bought it off the shelf from the Booneville Store.
After the revolver fully loaded was discovered in Barrett's possession as he was arrested by a county sheriff for driving while intoxicated.
Barrett was charged with the violation of a Federal Statute.
The Federal trial court instructed the jury that the statute's interstate requirements was satisfied if the firearm at sometime in the past had traveled in interstate commerce.
Irrespective of the defendant's non-involvement personally in that transportation across the state line, the verdict of guilty was returned and on appeal, the Court of Appeals by divided vote affirmed.
Because this holding seemed to conflict with the opinion of the Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit in another case, we granted certiorari limited to the interstate issue.
In an opinion filed today, we affirm the judgment of the Sixth Circuit and hold that the statute does indeed apply to a convicted felon's intrastate purchase of a firearm that previously, but independently of the felon's receipt had been transported in interstate commerce.
I am authorized to say that Mr. Justice White while joining the opinion has filed a separate concurring opinion and that Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.
Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.