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United States v. Miller

Sawed-off Shotguns & The Second Amendment, Preserving A Well-regulated Militia, The Brady Bill


United States


Jack Miller, Frank Layton

Appellant's Claim

That the Western Arkansas District Court had erred in dismissing indictments against the appellees for violating the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Gordon Dean

Chief Lawyer for Appellees


Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, Pierce Butler, Felix Frankfurter, Charles Evans Hughes, James Clark McReynolds (writing for the Court), Stanley Forman Reed, Owen Josephus Roberts, Harlan Fiske Stone

Justices Dissenting

None (William O. Douglas did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

15 May 1939


In favor of the government's appeal, reversing the lower court's dismissal of charges against Miller and Layton.


By declaring that a sawed-off shotgun had no reasonable relation to the terms of the Second Amendment, the Court set an important precedent for later cases involving firearms possession.

Related Cases

  • United States v. Smith, 341 F.Supp. 687 (1972).


Witkin, Gordon. "Gun Control's Limits." US News & World Report, 6 December 1993.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan and Elder Witt. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • McLenden, Regina. "Limits On the Federal Power To Regulate Firearms." Public Law Research Institute, University of California, Hastings College of Law. fall, 1994.
  • "Supreme Court Bars Sawed-Off Shotgun." New York Times, 16 May 1939, p. 15.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940