Dismissal of Post-1986 Machinegun Ban Challenge Appealed

By David Codrea

ScreenHunter_12 Dec. 04 15.45
Attorneys Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh are challenging the post-1986 machinegun ban.
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- An appeal was filed Wednesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit contesting the dismissal by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania of a case challenging the ban on civilian ownership of machineguns manufactured after 1986.

Attorneys Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh are representing claimant Ryan S. Watson in his complaint against the U.S. Attorney General and the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Watson was given permission by [ATF] to make a machinegun by approving his ATF Form 5320.1 (‘Form 1’). Watson subsequently made the authorized machinegun,” the opening brief states in its introduction.”The BATFE later revoked the approved Form 1 and mandated that Watson surrender the machinegun, which he did under protest.

“Watson then filed his Complaint in … district court challenging the constitutionality of the offending statutes facially and as-applied on Second Amendment grounds and contending that the Appellees violated Watson’s Equal Protection and Due Process rights,” the brief elaborates. “The district court granted Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss or Alternatively, for Summary Judgment in part, finding that Watson had standing to bring his challenge but ultimately granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.”

The brief provides a fascinating history of the tortured reasoning behind the original 1934 Firearms Act infringement through taxation, presenting testimony from then-Attorney General Homer Cummings before the House Ways and Means Committee. It also produces documentation from ATF itself admitting “the term ‘person’ in the [Gun Control Act of 1968] does not include an unincorporated trust [and] such a trust is not subject to the prohibition.”

Also included are citations and precedents conclusively demonstrating “The Second Amendment ensures that there is equality on an individual basis with the ‘organized’ militia … The Federal and State governments have no authority to subordinate the individual firearms of the ‘unorganized’ militia or to limit magazine content and lesser quality or inferior ammunition.”

The Watson case raises similar arguments to those raised in Hollis v. Lynch, another complaint Stamboulieh and Beck are pursing that is being backed by the Heller Foundation. That case out of Texas also involves an approved Form 1 machinegun on a trust after which ATF revoked the issued tax stamp, something they have no statutory authority to do.  Likewise, that case was dismissed at the District Court level and is being appealed to the Fifth Circuit. A quick distinction between the two cases is that in Hollis, ATF approved the Form 1, but he did not build a machinegun.

“Alan and I are pleased to represent a patriot such as Mr. Watson,” attorney Stamboulieh told AmmoLand. “We are likewise humbled at the support we have received from individuals and various groups all across the country. We believe that a faithful reading of the Second Amendment mandates a finding that Watson’s M16 is a protected arm, and thus, the 1986 ban on its possession is unconstitutional. We continue to need your support and look forward to restoring our Second Amendment rights.”

You can read the complete Watson appeal brief here, and review early filings and documentation here.

As with the Hollis case the Heller Foundation is supporting the Watson case efforts. I’m told the attorneys still need donations as they spent a lot in filing fees and briefing expenses recently, and will have more expenses when they file rebuttal briefs. Gun owners who wish to lend more than moral support can make donations to the Heller NFA Fund.


Dismissal of Post-1986 Machinegun Ban Challenge Appealed

In other court news:

Still no word at this writing from the Supreme Court on whether or not it will grant cert in the Friedman v. Highland Park challenge to a municipal “assault weapon”/magazine ban. Per the SCOTUS docket, it was scheduled for today’s conference. I’ll update this section if more becomes known by the end of the day.

Attorney Alan Gura of Heller and McDonald fame has asked Chief Justice John Roberts for direction on the judge assigned to the new DC gun law case. Gura’s letter and documentation are here.

David Codrea in his natural habitat.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and also posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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A while back I wrote this: https://pluckingtheyew.blogspot.com/2011/12/open-letter-read-at-your-own-risk.html The following is a distillation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his Attorney General Homer S. Cummings, wanted to ban guns. They both knew that pesky old “Second Amendment to the Constitution” thingy was in the way. In other words, they wanted to do something blatantly unconstitutional and wanted to figure out how they could get away with it. Does that sound like something “good guys” would do? Do you think they cared? So, how to get it done? They hit upon the bight idea of taxing the hell out of firearms. Which firearms?… Read more »


NRA life member here. I’m diverting any donations from NRAILA to this case at least until NRA files an amicus that is unambiguously in favor of ending 922o. I make sure to remind them of this on the occasions they call soliciting donations. It’s not enough to be “not openly against” restoring our rights. NRA needs to contribute actively to restoring our rights here if they want my continued support. A good amicus brief supporting the end of 922o is the least they can do.


We will continue to lose if we play by FedGov’s rules. We are going about this, trying to overturn individual unconstitutional laws, the wrong way. The Constitution did not empower FedGov to be the final or sole arbiter of what the Constitution means or of judging when FedGov is violating it. This is a reserved power of the states. See TakeBackThePower.us

ole Shoemaker

James you are exactly right !!! I hear tons of bashing NRA from behind the keyboard, and no action from any of them. Where are the ones to say “I am a member of SO AND SO ORG. and we are doing just exactly what I want them to do.” Bashing is easy, taking action and spending money is a whole different story… If all these bashers joined the NRA they could vote in whoever they wanted to run the org. and they could make them do what they wanted them to do… Instead of 5 million members we would… Read more »


Unfortunate that so many bash our NRA, if you don’t like what they are doing or not doing
that is fine with me. I’m a Life Member.

In that case, will YOU do something about it or just sit behind a keyboard?


Woody, none of us would have been born.


The NRA is hiding this the best they can just like they did in Heller, they are worthless political cowards…


Way to go Larry!
Your one of if not the most reasoned and truthful journalists in America today.
You write some truly great pieces.

This whole gun prohibition disarmament agenda and acts are essentially Bills of Attainder against American’s.
Its getting really old.
I’ve had enough.
Molan Labe bitchez!

Woody W Woodward

Had the ATF been around in the early 1900’s Browning, Garand, and Williams would have been sitting in a federal prison and we would be speaking either Japanese or German today. ATF apparently adheres to the premise that, “The law is what we say it is, at any given time, and there’s nothing you can do about because we are a governmental agency.”

Randy Griffin

If the action that the BATFE took is unconstitutional, then they be made to allow the filing for the machine gun. We need more cases like this one until we get the laws changed and do away with the post-1986 machinegun ban.


Wayne: I’ll bet the NRA doesn’t want to get involved with this.


They did the NRA doesn’t wish to really fight for our rights they declined.


The Heller Foundation, eh? Go Dick, let’s keep up that winning streak!


Why don’t they contact the NRA and ask them to represent them or back them in court…..seems like a no-brainer to me…..