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United States v. Sarraj

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
665 F.3d 916 (2012)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Khalil Sarraj (defendant), an Illinois resident, for violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The statute made it illegal for a convicted felon like Sarraj to possess a firearm "in or affecting" interstate commerce. The trial evidence established that, despite being aware of § 922(g)(1)'s prohibition, Sarraj sought to buy guns because he believed he needed the weapons to protect himself against his former associates in a failed robbery. Undercover agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) set up a reverse sting operation. Posing as illegal gun dealers, the agents intentionally selected two weapons from the ATF's store of prop guns that they knew were manufactured outside Illinois, thereby satisfying § 922(g)(1)'s interstate-commerce element and federalizing what otherwise would have been only a state offense. As soon as the sale took place, the agents arrested Sarraj. Sarraj pleaded guilty but reserved his right to challenge the constitutionality of the agents' behavior, which he did when he appealed his conviction to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hamilton, J.)

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