United States v. Miller Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Miller challenged his conviction which was based on an indictment for a much broader offense.

Facts of the case

“An Arkansas federal district court charged Jack Miller and Frank Layton with violating the National Firearms Act  of 1934 (“”NFA””) when they transported a sawed-off double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun in interstate commerce. Miller and Layton argued that the NFA violated their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The district court agreed and dismissed the case.”


Whether an indictment is invalid when a defendant is convicted of a lesser, but included, crime.


As long as an indictment encompasses the crime of which the defendant is ultimately convicted, the conviction will stand.


The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The Court first ruled that, in light of a series of Court precedents, defendants’ objection that the Act usurped police power reserved to the States was plainly untenable. The Court went on to hold that the Second Amendment did not guarantee defendants’ right to keep and bear a shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length. The weapon was not part of any ordinary military equipment and its use could not contribute to the common defense. The Court found that there was no evidence that possession of such shotgun had any relationship to the preservation of a militia.

  • Case Brief: 1939
  • Appellant: United States
  • Appellee: Jack Miller and Frank Layton
  • Decided by: Hughes Court

Citation: 307 US 174 (1939)
Argued: Mar 30, 1939
Decided: May 15, 1939