Criminal Law Blog

DCCA: Neither the Second Amendment nor Wrenn bars CPWL prosecution of those with prior felony convictions.

Hooks v. United States (decided August 30, 2018)

Players: Associate Judges Fisher, Beckwith, and McLeese. Opinion by Judge Fisher. Donald L. Dworsky for Mr. Hooks. Trial Judge: Kimberly S. Knowles.

Issue 1: Whether the evidence suffices to support appellant’s convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm (UPF), carrying a pistol without a license (CPWL), possession of an unregistered firearm (UF), and unlawful possession of ammunition (UA)?

Holding 1: Yes. The evidence showed that as police were approaching appellant, he walked over to a metal dumpster; that the officers heard something metal hit the dumpster; and that appellant took his arm out of the dumpster and walked away. The officers found a loaded pistol in the dumpster and nothing else that would account for the noise they heard. When they pursued appellant, he ran. This evidence suffices to show beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant possessed the loaded pistol. Appellant stipulated to the remaining elements, including his prior felony conviction, at trial.

Issue 2: Whether the appellant’s CPWL conviction violated the Second Amendment?

Holding 2: No. Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650 (D.C. Cir. 2017) did not invalidate the CPWL statute; it only invalidated (and enjoined enforcement of) the requirement to demonstrate “good reason to fear injury” or some other “proper” need to carry a pistol before obtaining a license to do so. That requirement is severable from the provision that penalizes carrying a pistol without a license and requires licensees to be otherwise “suitable” to obtain a license. Appellant was not “suitable” and further had no Second Amendment right to carry a pistol outside of his home because he had been convicted of a felony. WC.

Read the full opinion here.