U.S. v. Mahin, No. 10-5292
Decided Feb. 3, 2012
Christopher Mahin was convicted of two separate counts of possessing a firearm or ammunition while subject to domestic violence protection order. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held that his convictions were not barred by the Second Amendment or the recent Supreme Court precedent in Heller. That case, the court noted, interpreted the protection to own firearms as applying for protection one’s hearth and home.
The Fourth Circuit, like a growing number of sister circuits, was not prepared to extend that right beyond the home and to those under domestic violence orders. Nonetheless, without deciding whether such a constitutional right should exist, the court held that were there a right it would fall under Intermediate Scrutiny and that given “the obvious fit between [the statute] and the substantial public interest in reducing domestic violence, the government has met its constitutional burden” and affirmed the conviction. However, the court held that it was error to convict Mahin of two counts of possessing a firearm or ammunition when he merely possessed both a gun and ammo at the same time.
-C. Alexander Cable