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Gilbert Equipment Co. v. Higgins
United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
709 F. Supp. 1071 (1989)
The Gun Control Act of 1968 enabled the United States Treasury Department to authorize the importation of firearms suitable or readily adaptable to sporting purposes such as hunting. Gilbert Equipment Company (Gilbert) (plaintiff) sought to import a Korean semiautomatic shotgun known as the USAS-12. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (the ATF)—which was then an agency of the Treasury Department—denied Gilbert’s request to import the USAS-12. The ATF reasoned that the weight, width, and design of the weapon were more suited to military combat than any sporting purpose. The ATF also noted that Gilbert’s own marketing materials identified combat uses for the weapon. Gilbert filed an action against Stephen Higgins (defendant), director of the ATF, in federal district court. Gilbert sought mandamus relief as well as a declaration that the ATF (1) acted arbitrarily and capriciously, (2) made unwarranted conclusions, (3) violated Gilbert’s due-process and equal-protection rights, and (4) violated Gilbert’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The case came before a magistrate judge, whose recommendation was adopted by the district court. Higgins moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pittman, J.)
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