Stevens v. United States

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In Stevens v. United States, 440 F.2d 144 (6th Cir. 1971), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the conviction of a felon for possessing a firearm in violation of Title VII of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, specifically 18 U.S.C.S. app. § 1202(a)(1).

A 2-1 panel of the Court applied the federal statute broadly as not to require proof of a connection with interstate commerce in the possession of the gun. It held:

Since the Second Amendment right "to keep and bear Arms" applies only to the right of the State to maintain a militia and not to the individual's right to bear arms, there can be no serious claim to any express constitutional right of an individual to possess a firearm. United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 178, 59 S. Ct. 816, 83 L. Ed. 1206. Stevens asserts, however, that Congress is without constitutional power to deny him this privilege. We hold that Congress has this authority under the commerce clause.

The dissenting Judge wrote that a connection with interstate commerce is a requirement of the statute, and must be proved: "we must 'at least' be able to say with 'substantial assurance' that it is more likely than not that a firearm possessed by an individual previously convicted of a felony will be used in such a manner as to be a burden on interstate commerce.

This decision has been questioned by other courts.