Appeals court rules against Kansas’s Second Amendment Protection Act

A panel from the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a setback for gun owners, ruling last week that Kansas’s Second Amendment Protection Act did not shield two defendants from prosecution for violating the National Firearms Act, a federal law.

The appeals court ruled that the trial court was correct that the defendants could not use SAPA as a defense at trial — only during the sentencing phase — a precedent that represents a major setback for gun owners nationwide. However, the defendants received probation instead of prison time or a fine.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 places several requirements on the transfer or sale of guns and suppressors. Among these requirements is that the seller must have a federal firearms license and the items sold must be registered.

In the past 10 years, many states have enacted laws that have attempted to shield their citizens from the NFA, so long as the guns did not leave the state. These laws are called Firearms Freedom Acts or Second Amendment Protection Acts. Kansas is one of the states that enacted SAPA.

Under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, federal laws trump state laws. In this case, the appeals court specifically stated that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of SAPA. Therefore, gun owners need to be aware that similar state laws may not protect citizens from federal prosecution.

The defendants, as well as the state of Kansas, may appeal their case to the en banc 10th Circuit, and then to the Supreme Court. The confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh gives gun rights advocates a much better chance of expanding gun rights. The Second Amendment may no longer be a “Constitutional orphan,” as Justice Clarence Thomas has called it.



  1. Frank Padia says

    There is no law against selling or transferring a gun unless you are in the business of selling firearms. It is perfectly legal to sell you privately owned weapons without a license. This is the “loopholes” Democrats whine about and want to change when they call for background checks on ALL gun sales. Owning a Suppressor requires a Class III firearms license, just like selling firearms as a business which is likely what these men were doing.

  2. Lawrence Peck says

    I think they were trying to establish a right to own a suppressor and trying to limit the ATFE enforcement to interstate commerce – the only source of their authority under the Constitution. There is no other hobby that has safety equipment prohibited by law. Can you imagine if race cars or motorcycles were prohibited from having mufflers to promote hearing damage? That is what the NFA does by prohibiting noise suppressors.

  3. Karl says

    The Supremacy clause is that the US constitution is the supreme law of the land and trumps state and federal legislative laws. The notion that Federal Laws trump state laws is a poor precedent set by the US Supreme Court to undermine states rights. Also, the Second Amendment Protection Act in practice don’t actually protect people from Federal gun laws, instead most only specify that State will not designate resources to enforce Federal gun laws, so local, county and state law enforcement will not enforce or target people breaking federal gun laws and they will not provide aid to federal law enforcement agencies if they attempt to enforce federal gun laws within the state… really Second Amendment Protection Acts are not all that different from state level marijuana legalization.

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