Eleventh Circuit Notes Split Re Relevance of Subjective Intent to Lability under the National Firearms Act

Per U.S. v. Spoerke, --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL 1423919 (11th Cir. May 22, 2009):

Spoerke asserts that the pipe bombs were intended for social enjoyment, he detonated them only underwater, and he enjoyed the concussion of the device when detonated. Our sister circuits are split over whether the court should consider the subjective intent of the defendant when determining whether the device was designed as a weapon. Compare United States v. Oba, 448 F.2d 892, 894 (9th Cir.1971) (considering the defendant's subjective intent), with United States v. Posnjak, 457 F.2d 1110, 1118-20 (2d Cir.1972) (applying an objective standard to determine whether the device falls within the reach of the Firearms Act), and United States v. Johnson, 152 F.3d 618, 628 (7th Cir.1998) (adopting a mixed standard). Although the district court instructed the jury on the mixed standard, we decline to adopt a standard because the evidence of Spoerke's intent, under any standard, is sufficient to sustain his conviction.


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