Stu­dent says he didn’t ‘know­ingly’ vi­o­late gun law

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

The Supreme Court said Fri­day that it will take a case in­volv­ing an il­le­gal im­mi­grant who claims he didn’t know his sta­tus had lapsed when he went to shoot a gun at a range, thus vi­o­lat­ing a law against il­le­gal im­mi­grants pos­sess­ing weaponry.

Hamid Re­haif, a cit­i­zen of the United Arab Emi­rates, was study­ing on a stu­dent visa at the Florida In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy when the school sent emails say­ing he had been “aca­dem­i­cally dis­missed” and his visa would be end­ing.

Ten months later, he was found in pos­ses­sion of am­mu­ni­tion and ad­mit­ted he had been to a fir­ing range, where he rented weapons to shoot. That put him in vi­o­la­tion of a fed­eral ban on il­le­gal im­mi­grants pos­sess­ing guns or am­mu­ni­tion.

He said he wanted to ar­gue that he never re­ceived the emails so he didn’t know he was in the coun­try il­le­gally, and thus didn’t “know­ingly” vi­o­late the law, but the lower courts made that point moot.

Mr. Re­haif is ask­ing the jus­tices to over­turn his con­vic­tion and give him a chance to ar­gue that he wasn’t aware.

“It is law­ful to go to a shoot­ing range and rent a gun to shoot there, and to pur­chase am­mu­ni­tion. The only thing that makes such con­duct il­le­gal, un­der [the law], is if the per­son hap­pens to be il­le­gally or un­law­fully in the United States at the time,” his at­tor­neys ar­gued.

At is­sue is whether the law re­quires both knowl­edge of be­ing in pos­ses­sion of weaponry and knowl­edge of be­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally.

The lower courts ruled that the law re­quires only that some­one know­ingly pos­sesses the firearm — re­gard­less of aware­ness of il­le­gal sta­tus.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment said ev­ery court that has ruled on the mat­ter has found that the “know­ingly” stan­dard ap­plies only to the firearms pos­ses­sion.

But Mr. Re­haif points to writ­ings by then-Judge Neil M. Gor­such — now on the Supreme Court — who said the “know­ingly” stan­dard must ap­ply both to the firearms pos­ses­sion and their pro­hib­ited sta­tus.

So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Noel Fran­cisco, in his brief to the court, said Mr. Re­haif’s chal­lenge is a poor test of the law.

He said the man “ad­mit­ted to an FBI agent that he knew that his stu­dent visa — his sole ba­sis for law­ful pres­ence in the coun­try — was no longer valid at the time he pos­sessed the firearms and am­mu­ni­tion.”

Mr. Re­haif, in his at­tor­neys’ briefs, said he never re­sponded to the emails in­form­ing him of his sta­tus and the FBI in­ter­view wasn’t recorded, so he could ar­gue that he wasn’t aware his sta­tus had lapsed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.