Legal Studies Assignment 1

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Jenna Van Wyk
Honors Law 1901
February 1, 2012

Writing Assignment #1

The issue being presented in this case deals with whether or not it was unlawful for Joe Roberts to possess a machine-gun he built and displayed locally. Mr. Roberts knew it was illegal to buy a machine-gun so he built his own gun thinking it was legal because it never traveled interstate and he destroyed the mold he used to make the gun.

The federal government has the ability to regulate the possession of a machine-gun that travels interstate. Roberts claims that his arrest was unconstitutional because he did not violate the law, in that, he built the gun using local parts and made and assembled it in Pennsylvania. The gun never left the state of Pennsylvania. Under these circumstances, Roberts could argue that there was no law broken, but statute 18 U.S.C. 922 (o) makes it illegal for any person to transfer or possess a machine-gun. The only exceptions to this statute could potentially apply to Roberts because in building the gun himself locally, he has lawfully possessed the machine-gun. In the statute given in this case, the federal government can regulate the possession of a machine-gun that was wholly made within Pennsylvania and was never part of interstate commerce because it is illegal for any person to possess a machine-gun.

It is not a defense that Joe’s possession of the machine-gun was insignificant in the grand scheme of things because even though he is only one person who possesses only one firearm, this could lead to other people possessing machine-guns locally with the intent to use the gun to harm others or themselves. The decisions in Wickard v. Filburn and Gonzales v. Raich make the possession of the gun by Mr. Roberts very significant in the grand scheme of things. Regardless of the morality of allowing an individual to build guns locally, it is still illegal to build such a gun for personal use because it exerts a substantial economic effect of interstate...
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