United States v. Benamor, No. 17-50308 (9th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly possessing a firearm as a felon. Defendant argued that, because firearms manufactured in or before 1898 do not qualify as "firearms" under 18 U.S.C. 922, the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury that, to convict, they had to find that defendant knew that his firearm was manufactured after 1898.
The panel held that United States v. Aguilera-Rios, 769 F.3d 626 (9th Cir. 2014), does not override the line of cases holding that a firearm's antique status is an affirmative defense in a criminal prosecution. Furthermore, Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600 (1994), which required the government to prove defendant's knowledge of every characteristic of his shotgun that made it incriminating, including age, was not helpful to defendant in this case. Therefore, the panel held that the district court correctly declined to give defendant's proposed jury instruction where he failed to dispute the government's evidence that his gun could not have been manufactured before 1915 and he offered evidence that he reasonably believed that the gun was manufactured before 1899. Likewise, the panel also rejected defendant's sufficiency of the evidence argument.