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Home / Case Digests / 00-4180 U.S. v. Lane

00-4180 U.S. v. Lane

“Physical control over a gun is remarkably easy to effect. Once the gun is in the defendant’s hands he need only pull the trigger, an act which can be completed in a split second and which is controlled and influenced by nothing more than the defendant’s whim. Lane protests that the circumstances surrounding his inspection of the gun show that he did not possess it. He points out that he was merely inspecting the gun and that when he held the gun it belonged to Bowen. But none of these circumstances bear on Lane’s ability to shoot the gun. Felons handling guns, unlike defendants who have touched drugs, do not need recognition of their authority or any extra element to obtain the ability to shoot the gun. Lane had just as much control over the gun when he inspected it while it belonged to Bowen as he would have if he as the gun’s owner took aim at a rabbit. Because a defendant can shoot a gun so quickly and easily once he holds it in his hands, we conclude that evidence showing that a felon held a gun is by itself a ‘factor indicating that the defendant had the ability to exercise direct control over the [firearm].’ The distinction between holding a gun and obtaining control over a gun as required to prove possession is academic. We do not address whether touching a gun as opposed to holding a gun mandates the same result.”

Affirmed.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crabb, J., Bauer, J.


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