In United States v. Huet, No. 10-4729 (3d Cir. Jan 5, 2012), Police executed a valid search warrant of a home shared by Melissa Huet and Marvin Hall — Hall happened to be a convicted felon. In the course of the search, police found a firearm. The Government charged Hall with illegal possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), and charged Huet with aiding and abetting his possession, also under § 922(g).
Huet filed a motion under Rule 12 (b)(3)(B) to dismiss the charge on grounds that the Indictment failed to state an offense under § 922(g), and also argued that, as a non-felon legally entitled to possess a firearm, she enjoys protection under the Second Amendment. The District Court agreed, and dismissed the Indictment as to Huet.
The District Court then went to rule that even if the Indictment did properly charge a § 922(g) violation, it violated Huet’s Second Amendment rights because otherwise it would eliminate “the right of a sane, non-felonious citizen to possess a firearm in her home simply because her paramour is a felon.”
The Government appealed, and the Third Circuit reversed and remanded.
First, the Court observed that the Indictment properly charged Huet with aiding and abetting under § 922(g): it alleged that Hall was an illegally possessing felon, and that Huet knew or had reason to know Hall was prohibited from possessing a firearm, and rendered aid or assistance in Hall’s possession of a firearm.
With respect to the Second Amendment argument, the Court pointed to the language in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 626-27 (2008), that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons.” The Court stated that — contrary to the Fifth and Tenth Circuits — it had “explicitly held “in United States v. Barton, 633 F.3d 168, 171, that this language was not dicta, and so bound the court.
As a consequence, the Court held that the Second Amendment did not shield Huet from being charged with aiding and abetting a felon to possess a firearm, as Huet’s status as a non-felon was irrelevant. Although Huet could legally possess a firearm, she could violate § 922(g), by aiding and abetting a felon.
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