United States v. Evans

928 F.2d 858 (9th Cir. 1991)

[In this case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considers the constitutionality of the federal statute that prohibits possession of unregistered machine guns, 26 U.S.C. Sec. 5861(d) (1982). The appellant, Creed M. Evans, was convicted in U.S. District Court of making false statements to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. In his appeal, Evans argues that the mere possession of machine guns is not sufficiently related to interstate commerce to pemit Congress to make it a criminal offense.]

WIGGINS, Circuit Judge:

. . . Evans contends that congress lacks the power to prohibit the mere possession of unregistered machine guns without requiring proof of a nexus with interstate commerce. The general standard by which a statute that is said to violate the Commerce Clause is to be measured is firmly established. Although we independently review the validity of an act that is said the violate the Commerce Clause, * * * our review is conducted in a highly deferential manner. We consider whether a reasonable Congress could find that the class of activity regulated affects interstate commerce. * * * Congress need not make specific findings of fact to support its conclusion that a class of activity affects interstate commerce. * * * However, if Congress does make such findings, they carry great weight in this court's analysis. * * *

The statutes at issue in this case easily meet this standard. Congress specifically found that at least 750,000 people had been killed in the United States by firearms between the turn of the century and the time of the Act's enactment. It was thus reasonable for Congress to conclude that the possession of firearms affects the national economy, if only through the insurance industry. Since Evans does not contend that any specific Constitutional rights are implicated, this rather tenuous nexus between the activity regulated and interstate commerce is sufficient. . . .

We AFFIRM the judgement of the District Court.