Plaintiffs in Dallas Federal Lawsuit say U.S. Gun Control Laws Unconstitutional–U.S. citizens overseas unfairly restricted from gun ownership, suit says

DALLAS – A United States citizen who now lives in Great Britain has joined with the country’s leading gun owner rights organization in a federal lawsuit that says nonresident citizens are unfairly being targeted by existing laws that restrict gun ownership to those who live in the U.S.

Attorneys William B. Mateja, a principal in the Dallas and Washington, D.C., offices of Fish & Richardson P.C., and Alan Gura of Alexandria, Va.’s Gura & Possessky, PLLC, filed the federal claim today on behalf of London, England, resident Maxwell Hodgkins and the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation.

Mr. Hodgkins, a 31-year-old real estate broker, is asking for a legal injunction that would prohibit federal officials from enforcing several “vague and ambiguous” gun control statutes. A Dallas native, Mr. Hodgkins is an avid gun collector and sportsman who legally owns and stores firearms in the U.S. and holds related permits for weapons possession and concealment.

Mr. Mateja previously served in the current Bush Administration as Senior Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General. Among other duties, he oversaw the Justice Department’s violent crime efforts, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and President Bush’s Project Safe Neighborhood. Prior to that, he served as lead counsel in the notable Second Amendment case U.S. v. Timothy Joe Emerson.

The statutes in question ban the receipt, sale and purchase of firearms by U.S. citizens who claim legal residency outside the U.S. Expatriates cannot buy guns, and while they can receive guns for “lawful sporting purposes,” they cannot do so for lawful self defense while visiting the U.S. The suit claims that these laws violate the Second and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Although Mr. Hodgkins has not been arrested or prosecuted, his attorneys say he could face federal charges should he attempt to access his guns in the U.S.

“These laws serve no useful purpose,” says Mr. Gura. “If Mr. Hodgkins may safely have a gun for target practice or hunting, he can certainly have a gun for other lawful purposes.”

Alan Gottlieb, founder and vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, says: “The firearms rights of American citizens do not become null and void simply because an individual lives in another country. There is no public safety rationale for laws or regulations that prohibit law-abiding citizens from exercising their rights while they are on American soil. We cannot allow a legal environment to exist where the exercise of a civil right by an American citizen anywhere in the United States is conditional to that person’s country of residence.”

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