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ATF threatened to disallow Wyoming firearms licenses as an exception to the NICS check when purchasing firearms, because Wyoming passed a law allowing those convicted of domestic violence charges to petition a court to have the first such charge expunged and thus have their gun rights restored.

The ATF claims only they can determine if gun rights should be restored (and there is no funding to make such a determination - Congress defunded the gun rights restoration program years ago).

So Wyoming's attorney general sued the ATF.

Oral arguments were a month ago.

The NRA and the Gun Owner's Foundation filed friend of the court briefs.

Link to News Article
 

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Wyoming fights federal gun law
ATF won't honor weapons permits under state statute

By Ben Neary, Associated Press
October 7, 2006

CHEYENNE - A federal agency is balking at a Wyoming law that allows people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to regain their right to own guns simply because the agency wants to take guns away from as many people as possible, a state lawyer told a federal judge Friday.

U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson heard arguments in a lawsuit Wyoming filed against the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The state has asked Johnson to rule that the ATF acted illegally when it threatened to disallow nearly 11,000 concealed weapons permits the state has issued to its citizens as a substitute for federal background checks for firearms purchases.

Congress in 1996 expanded the ban that prohibits convicted felons from owning guns to include anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

A Wyoming law enacted in 2004 allows people convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge to petition in court to get their first conviction expunged. The ATF has warned Wyoming that it would stop honoring state weapon permits for gun purchases if Wyoming continues to use its law.

Wyoming's lawsuit has drawn national attention, with groups such as the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners Foundation in Washington supporting the state's position.

The ATF says the problem with the state law is that it doesn't really expunge a conviction because it specifies the record of the first conviction remains on the state books for purposes of enhancing penalties for any subsequent crime.

Alexander K. Haas, a lawyer for the ATF, told Johnson he doesn't think the Wyoming Legislature would want to change the state law to allow people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to have their records entirely expunged because of the public safety concerns.

But Haas said the ATF hasn't sought to prevent Wyoming from managing its own laws. Rather, he said, the federal agency gave the state a choice: if the state wanted to adopt a law that fails to meet the federal standard, it wouldn't be entitled to the federal benefit of having its citizens' concealed weapons permits accepted for instant gun purchases.

However, Levi Martin, assistant Wyoming attorney general, told Johnson that ATF's goal is "to remove firearms from the hands of as many people as it could."

Johnson said he would issue a ruling later.
:D
 
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