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SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court Thursday overturned a Mesa, Ariz. man's federal conviction of possessing five machine guns.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of San Francisco reversed the conviction, ruling that the congressional ban does not apply to homemade machine guns and their parts because they were never in the stream of commerce.

The court ruled that there was neither a transfer nor sale of the weapons or their parts, so Congress did not have the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate homemade guns crafted from scratch.

Robert Stewart was sentenced to five years imprisonment for being a felon in possession of firearms and of possessing illegal machine guns last year.

His attorney, Thomas Haney of Phoenix, said the decision doesn't mean much for his client or for the gun movement. Few people have the skills to build a weapon from scratch, as Stewart did, Haney said.

Haney said most states, including Arizona, also have state bans against rapidly firing machine guns that would withstand judicial scrutiny regardless of whether the weapon was homemade. "It might not be viable for anyone to think they can start making their own," Haney said.

Stewart, meanwhile, faces about a 20-year sentence next week after being convicted this summer of soliciting a fellow prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix to kill U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver, the judge who last year sentenced him to five years on the weapons violations.

The case decided Thursday is United States v. Stewart, 02-10318.

Retired Fed, Active Special
8,887 Posts
Ah! the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal....................
need anymore be said?
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