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U.S. Supreme Court

Huddleston v. United States, 415 U.S. 814 (1974)

Huddleston v. United States

No. 72-1076

Argued November 7, 1973

Decided March 26, 1974

415 U.S. 814


Petitioner, a previously convicted felon, was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), a part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, by falsely stating, in connection with the redemption from a pawnbroker of three guns petitioner had pawned, that he had not been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than a year. The pawnbroker was a federally licensed firearms dealer. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Section 922(a)(6) makes it an offense knowingly to make a false statement "in connection with the acquisition . . . of any firearm . . . from a . . . licensed dealer" and

"intended or likely to deceive such . . . dealer . . . with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of such firearm. . . ."

Held: Section 922(a)(6) applies to the redemption of a firearm from a pawnshop. Pp. 415 U. S. 819-833.

(a) Petitioner's contention that the statute covers only a sale-like transaction is without merit, since "acquisition," as used in § 922(a)(6), clearly includes any person, by definition, who "comes into possession, control, or power of disposal" of a firearm. Moreover, the statutory terms "acquisition" and "sale or other disposition" are correlatives. It is reasonable to conclude that a pawnbroker might "dispose" of a firearm through a redemptive transaction. Finally, Congress explicitly included pawnbrokers in the Gun Control Act, specifically mentioned pledge and pawn transactions involving firearms, and did not include them in the statutory exemptions. Pp. 415 U. S. 819-823.

(b) That pawnshop firearms redemptions are covered by the challenged provision comports with the legislative history of Title IV of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, which are aimed at controlling access to weapons by those whose possession thereof is contrary to the public interest, through a regulatory scheme focusing on he federally licensed firearms dealer. Pp. 415 U. S. 824-829.

(c) Section 922(a)(6) contains no ambiguity warranting a narrow construction in petitioner's favor, and application of the

Page 415 U. S. 815

statute to the pawn redemptions here raises no issue of constitutional dimension. Pp. 415 U. S. 830-833.

472 F.2d 592, affirmed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER C.J.,and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 415 U. S. 833.

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