RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Cleveland Board of Education
DOCKET NO.: 72-1076
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 415 US 814 (1974)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1973
DECIDED: Mar 26, 1974
Danny Julian Boggs - for respondent
Harvey I. Saferstein - for the petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Huddleston v. United StatesAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1973 in Huddleston v. United States
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 26, 1974 in Huddleston v. United States
Warren E. Burger:
The disposition in number 72-1076, Huddleston against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
This case comes to us from the Unites States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
It presents the issue whether a federal statues declaring that it is unlawful knowingly to make a false statement in connection with the acquisition of any fire arm from a licensed dealer, covers the redemption of a fire arm from a pawnshop.
In 1971, the practitioner Mr. Huddleston, pawned 3 riffles owned by his wife at pawnshop in California.
The shop proprietor was a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Some weeks later, Mr. Huddleston redeemed the weapons when he did this the pawnbroker required him to complete a treasury form used in the enforcement of the federal gun control statues.
A question on that forms, specifically inquired whether the person executing it, had been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
This question is directed to the prohibition in a statue against a dealer’s selling or otherwise disposing of a firearm to any person who has been so convicted.
Mr. Huddleston answered No to that question on each of the three forms.
He then affixed his signature to the certification that his answer was true and correct.
In fact, some six years earlier he had been convicted in a California State court of a crime punishable under State Law by a maximum term of 14 years.
In due course, Mr. Huddleston was charged in three count indictment with violating the statue.
He moved to dismiss on the ground of the statue was not intended to apply to a pawnors redemption of a weapon he had pawned.
This motion was denied.
He then pleaded not guilty.
He was found guilty and sentenced.
The Ninth Circuit, by a divided vote, affirmed the conviction.
We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the circuits on the issue, and in opinion filed today, we examine the language and structure of the Act and its legislative history, and we conclude that the word acquisition, as used in the statued, does include any person who redeems a weapon that has been pawned.
We do not find the statued ambiguous or uncertain.
The Judgment of the Court of Appeal is therefore affirmed.
I am authorized to state that Mr. Justice Douglas has filed an opinion dissenting from this conclusion.