12/11/02 Supreme Court Perpetuates Injustice, GOA Says

Supreme Court Perpetuates Injustice, GOA Says

For Immediate Release
December 11, 2002
Contact: Ellie McDaniel

The Supreme Court refused to restore Tom Bean’s firearms rights in a unanimous decision handed down yesterday.

“This is a tremendous injustice,” said GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt. “The Attorney General and the Supreme Court have conspired to take away a man’s right to self-defense based on actions that are not a crime anywhere in the United States.”

Tom Bean’s story is tragic. He had gone to dinner in Mexico and had inadvertently left some ammunition in his car following a gun show he had operated. The ammunition was in plain sight — obviously not an intentional act.

Nevertheless, Bean was convicted of a Mexican felony for possessing the ammunition and was kept in a Mexican jail for several weeks until he was repatriated under a prisoner exchange treaty.

Bean was thus freed from jail, but amazingly, the U.S. insisted on recognizing the foreign felony for a completely legal act in the U.S. Since the Congress has refused to fund the rights restoration procedures of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Bean went to court. The Federal District and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals both agreed to restore his rights.

“Amazingly, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Solicitor General Ted Olson decided to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court,” Pratt said. “Had they let the Fifth Circuit’s decision lie, Bean’s right to own firearms would have been restored, and he would have been able to resume his career.

“This horrendous move by the Attorney General, and the unjust decision by the Supreme Court, means that Bean must rely on the BATF to restore his rights — an obvious Catch-22 since the BATF is prohibited by law from spending money for such purposes. It is up to the Congress now to restore funding to this program so that injustices like this one can be reversed,” Pratt said.

— GOA —

Larry Pratt is Executive Director for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151.

Either Larry Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.