The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a convicted felon cannot be prevented by the government from trying to sell his guns after they are confiscated.
In a unanimous decision, the court sided with Tony Henderson, a former DHS agent, who turned over his collection of 19 firearms to the FBI as a condition of release after his conviction for distributing marijuana.
Henderson plead guilty and subsequently wanted to sell his collection, reportedly valued at $3,500, to a friend. Lower courts had previously ruled that allowing Henderson to do so would technically give him possession of the firearms, in violation of the law.
In the unanimous opinion, Justice Elena Kagan said that a convicted felon is allowed to sell or transfer firearms as long as a court is satisfied that the person receiving the weapons won’t give the felon control over them.
Justice Kagan wrote,
“A court-ordered transfer of a felon’s lawfully owned firearms from Government custody to a third-party is not barred…if the court is satisfied that the recipient will not give the felon control over the firearms…Federal courts have the equitable authority to order law enforcement to return property obtained during the course of a criminal proceeding to its rightful owner…Section 922(g) however, bars a court from ordering guns returned to a felon-owner like Henderson, because that would place the owner in violation of the law.”
Kagan continued, writing that courts are also prevented from ordering the transfer of firearms to someone who is willing to allow the felon to use them.