Harold Staples Essay

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Harold Staples was convicted under the National Firearms Act for unlawfully possessing a fully automatic assault rifle that was not properly registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Records. Staples claimed he had no idea that the gun could fire automatically. At the trial Staples requested a jury instruction that he could not be found guiltily unless there was proof that he knew the gun was fully automatic. The trial judge ruled that the National Firearms Act did not require knowledge or mens rea but that it was a strict liability crime. The Appellate Court affirmed the conviction. Staples then filed is petition for certiorai to the United States Supreme Court which was granted. Overturning Staple’s conviction the…show more content…
I believe too many innocent owners would be subject to a severe penalty. As cited by the Court if there is strict liability under the National Firearms Act then “any person who has purchased what he believes to be a semiautomatic rifle or handgun, or who simply has inherited a gun from a relative or left it untouched in an attic or basement, can be subject to imprisonment, despite absolute ignorance of the gun’s firing capabilities.” Or say your driving home from a gun show and you just bought a used AR-15 and you get pulled over on the way home. The cop that pulls you over sees that you have a gun on your back seat and that cop takes it and looks at it and suspects that it has been modified so they take it and take it apart and they see that it has been modified for full auto. So they arrest you and now you are in jail for up to ten years just because you bought a gun at a gun show and had no idea that it was full auto. That’s the problem with that and why I agree with what the Supreme Court said and how they sided. Gun rights are a controversial subject. Finding a balance between citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment and keeping the public safe from guns getting into the hands of the wrong people, is difficult to do. However, I believe the Supreme Court in Staples achieved this
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