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Wilson v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

December 10, 2014


Matthew Steven Wilson, Plaintiff, Pro se, Ellensburg, WA.

For United States of America, Defendant: Vanessa Ruth Waldref, LEAD ATTORNEY, U S Attorney's Office - SPO, Spokane, WA.


THOMAS O. RICE, United States District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT are Plaintiff's Motion for Supplemental Pleadings (ECF No. 18), Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 19), and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 20). This matter was submitted for consideration without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files herein, and is fully informed.


Plaintiff filed this action on February 28, 2014, alleging that he was erroneously prohibited from purchasing a firearm. ECF No. 1, 8. By way of providing background on the transaction, Defendant filed an affidavit of Brian Allen Baker, a custodian of records for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ECF No. 19-1. Baker reviewed the records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check Service (NICS) Audit Log relating to Plaintiff's attempted firearm purchase and subsequent denial.[1]

Baker's review indicates that Plaintiff attempted to purchase a firearm at Cabela's in Union Gap, Washington, on February 19, 2014. Id. ¶ 22(a). Cabela's initiated an NICS background check and the attempted transaction was assigned a unique NICS Transaction Number (NTN) of 2J8ZG49. Id. The background check was initially delayed because of a technology issue. Id. ¶ 22(b). The next day, a NICS Legal Instruments Examiner (Examiner) determined that Plaintiff's descriptive information matched an Indiana State criminal record for an individual with a conviction of " Possession Firearm School Property, " a class D felony. Id. ¶ 22(c)--(d). Plaintiff has provided the Court with copies of his Indiana criminal transcript showing this conviction. ECF Nos. 13, 20. The Examiner determined that because of this conviction Plaintiff was prohibited from owning a gun under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 22(d).

Plaintiff requested an explanation for his denial and was mailed a letter informing him of the result of the NICS record search and advising Plaintiff that no further research on the matter would be conducted by the Examiner until Plaintiff submitted additional documentation or a fingerprint card. Id. ¶ 22(f). Between February 27, 2014, and March 5, 2014, Plaintiff submitted additional appeal requests, documents, and fingerprint cards. Id. ¶ 22(g)--(j). Plaintiff's appeal was reviewed by an Examiner on April 22, 2014. Id. ¶ 22(k). The Examiner concluded that the Indiana firearm conviction had been reduced under Indiana law from a felony to a misdemeanor after Plaintiff had served his sentence. Id. As such, the conviction did not prohibit Plaintiff from purchasing a firearm under § 922(g)(1) and the Plaintiff's record was updated to indicate this. Id. The Examiner, however, proceeded to conduct additional research to ensure Plaintiff was not prohibited from owning a firearm for any other reason. Id.

On May 16, 2014, the Examiner determined that a disorderly conduct conviction in Indiana may prohibit Plaintiff from owning a firearm. Id. ¶ 22(m). This conviction is also shown on the copies of Plaintiff's Indiana criminal transcript that Plaintiff has provided to the Court. ECF Nos. 13, 20. The Examiner mailed Plaintiff a letter requesting additional information that would assist the Examiner in clarifying whether or not this conviction qualified as a crime of domestic violence which would prohibit him from owning a firearm under § 922(g)(9). ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 22(n). Plaintiff responded with a letter that included a fingerprint card and a copy of the court transcript relating to his conviction. Id.¶ 22(o). On June 6, 2014, the Examiner contacted the Indiana police department that had arrested Plaintiff to obtain an incident report. Id. ¶ 22(q). Based upon that report, the Examiner concluded the incident was not a crime of domestic violence and notified Plaintiff of that determination. Id.¶ 22(q)--(r).

However, in the same letter, the Examiner notified Plaintiff that there was a recent potentially prohibiting arrest in Washington State for which Plaintiff was requested to submit additional information. Id.¶ 22(r). After further research, the Examiner concluded on July 9, 2014, that Plaintiff's recent Washington State arrest did not prohibit Plaintiff from purchasing a firearm. Id.¶ 22(u).

On July 11, 2014, the Examiner mailed to Plaintiff an appeal certificate indicating that Plaintiff may proceed with the attempted February 19, 2014, firearm transaction, identified as NTN 2J8ZG49. Id. ¶ 22(v). The transaction status was changed to " proceed." Id.

Plaintiff was also provided with instructions on applying for a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF), in order to facilitate processing NICS background checks for future firearms purchases. Id. On July 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a VAF application. Id. ¶ 23. On August 5, 2014, Plaintiff was assigned a Unique Personal Identification Number (UPIN) associated with his entry in the VAF. Id.¶ 23(b).

Plaintiff filed this action on February 28, 2014, seeking to correct the information in his NICS background check in order to allow him to purchase the firearm at issue in NTN 2J8ZG49. ECF No. 1, 8. Plaintiff has confirmed in both motions presently before the court that he has been able to purchase firearms using his UPIN and the information retained in the VAF. ECF No. 18, 20. Plaintiff notes, however, that he has continued to be delayed on a number of occasions, including once when he was delayed for almost two days. ECF No. 20. Plaintiff has further requested that erroneous information in his NICS file from Indiana be corrected so he does not have to use a ...

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