Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Moss

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 17, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
FRANK MOSS, Defendant.

          RULING RE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. NO. 23)

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Now before the court is defendant Frank Moss' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 23). Moss moves to dismiss the present Indictment pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b) and the Second, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. See Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Doc. No. 23) at 1. Moss argues that the statute under which he is charged is unconstitutionally vague, both on its face and as applied to him, and that the statute further violates both the Second and Eighth Amendments.

         For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Indictment alleges that, between June 2017 and November 2017, Moss purchased 11 firearms. See Indictment (Doc. No. 1) ¶¶ 1-8. Counts One through Eight of the Indictment charge Moss with making a false statement in connection with each purchase of eleven firearms, in violation of sections 922(a)(6) and 924(a)(2) of title 18 of the United States Code.[1] See id. Counts Nine through Fifteen of the Indictment charge Moss with unlawful possession of the same firearms by a person who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance, in violation of sections 922(g)(3) and 924(a)(2) of title 18 of the United States Code. See id. ¶¶ 9-15.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Facial Vagueness Challenge

         The main thrust of Moss' Motion to Dismiss is his argument that section 922(g)(3) is unconstitutionally vague on its face. See Mem. in Supp. (Doc. No. 24) at 3. Section 922(g)(3) provides that:

it shall be unlawful for any person . . . who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)) . . . to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Moss argues that a facial challenge to the statute is appropriate in this case because (1) the uncertainty of the statute “threatens to inhibit the exercise of constitutionally protected rights, ” see Mem. in Supp. at 4, and (2) the Supreme Court's recent decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), establishes that a statute can be facially challenged when it is “hopelessly indeterminate, ” even if the challenger cannot establish that it is vague in all of its applications. Mem. in Supp. at 5. The government responds that “[t]he case law makes clear that a facial challenge cannot be brought against [s]ection 922(g)(3).” Mem. in Opp. at 6.

         Vagueness challenges like that of Moss are rooted in the Fifth Amendment's requirement that “[n]o person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2556 (2015). “[T]he Government violates this guarantee by taking away someone's life, liberty, or property under a criminal law so vague that it fails to give ordinary people fair notice of the conduct it punishes, or so standardless that it invites arbitrary enforcement.” Id.

         Moss argues that, because section 922(g)(3) “plainly implicates the Second Amendment and thus triggers heightened Constitutional scrutiny, ” he may bring a facial challenge against the statute. See Mem. in Supp. at 4 (emphasis omitted) (citing New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n, Inc. v. Cuomo, 804 F.3d 242, 265 (2d Cir. 2015)). The court disagrees. Not all regulation concerning firearms automatically implicates Second Amendment rights. While the Second Circuit has noted that “[s]tatutes carrying criminal penalties or implicating the exercise of constitutional rights . . . are subject to a ‘more stringent' vagueness standard than are civil or economic regulations, ” see New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n, Inc. v. Cuomo, 804 F.3d 242, 265 (2d Cir. 2015), the Court has also made clear that a threshold question in the Second Amendment context is “whether the challenged legislation impinges upon conduct protected by the Second Amendment, ” id. at 254.

         The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), held that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. However, the Court emphasized that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited, ” 554 U.S. at 626, and that “nothing in [the] opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms, ” id. at 626-27; see also id. at 644 (Stevens, J., dissenting) (arguing that the majority “limit[ed] the protected class to ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens'”). Thus, while Heller recognized a right to keep and bear arms in the home, it simultaneously recognized that longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms-like the one expressed in section 922(g)(3)- did not implicate that right. This court concludes, therefore, that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.