Wednesday, July 27, 2005

U.S. v. Thomasian (9th Cir. - July 26, 2005)

I'm puzzled. I don't understand why Craig Thomasian files an appeal in this case, why he brings in an attorney all the way from Fairfax, Virginia (darn close to my hometown, I might add) to litigate the matter, or why the dispute is worth all the time and money that Mr. Thomasian has undoubtedly invested in the litigation.

This is a civil in rem forfeiture action in which the only thing at stake is the proposed forfeiture of a single Sentinal Arms Striker-12 shotgun, which Mr. Thomasian claims to own but which the ATF claims is illegal under the National Firearms Act. Now, admittedly, I don't particularly understand why one would want a Striker-12 in the first place. It looks roughly like a tommy gun from the 1920s. For sport hunting, no doubt. Or home security. Against the mob.

But be that as it may, regardless of the merits, I can't imagine that the gun is even nearly worth the time and effort of the litigation. A quick search reveals a Striker-12 shotgun in "excellent condition" on sale for $1200. I'm sure that plenty of other people are willing to sell for a similar price. Even if the gun has sentimental value ("I killed my first bootlegger with it!), I can't believe that it's worth all the fussin' and fightin' to try to get it back, particularly after the district court has ruled that, yep, it's a prohibited weapon, all right.

I guess I'm just not a gun nut. I'd have saved the money. And bought myself a machete or something cool like that. Maybe a huge spear. Or speargun. Yeah, that's it. A speargun. Perfect for home defense and for fishing. The classic double whammy.

Anyway, Thomasian loses on appeal anyway. On a straightforward issue of statutory interpretation on which the panel makes the obviously correct call. Sorry, Craig. You're out the cash and the gun. C'est la vie.

P.S. - I usually don't change what I write after it's posted. But I thought I'd add this note from a loyal reader, since the thought is a good one: "The answer to the question you posted above is on the homepage of Thomasian's lawyer, which you linked to. He is a Second Amendment activist. No doubt one of the gun-rights organizations is footing the bill for Mr. Thomasian, and using their own lawyer, in an attempt to create some favorable precedent. Didn't work, though."