United States v. Cox, No. 17-3034 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In 2014, the government prosecuted two Kansas men, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler, for violating the National Firearms Act (NFA) by manufacturing (in Kansas), transferring (in Kansas), and possessing (in Kansas) several unregistered firearms. A jury found them guilty of most (though not all) of the charges. Cox and Kettler appealed their convictions; they didn't dispute that their actions ran afoul of the NFA. Instead, they: (1) challenged the NFA’s constitutionality, alleging that the statute was an invalid exercise of congressional power and an invasion of the Second Amendment right to bear arms; and (2) challenged the district court’s ruling that their reliance on Kansas' Seciond Amendment Protection Act (SAPA), which they understood to shield Kansas-made and -owned firearms from federal regulation, provided no defense to charges that they violated the NFA. Kettler further asked the Tenth Circuit to see his prosecution as the product of a dispute between Kansas and the federal government over the SAPA, a dispute that unjustly swept him (and Cox) up (Cox did not join this latter argument). The Tenth Circuit granted Kansas’s request to participate in these appeals as needed to defend the SAPA from a Supremacy Clause challenge. The Tenth Circuit rejected Cox’s and Kettler’s challenges to their convictions (without addressing the SAPA’s constitutionality).