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Gil v. Holder

The Ninth Circuit held here that a conviction for California Penal Code § 12025(a) categorically qualifies as a deportable firearms offense under INA 237(a)(2)(C), 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(C).

Section 12025(a) penalizes offenses related to carrying a concealed firearm upon the person or in a vehicle or causing a weapon to be concealed in a vehicle. The state courts have interpreted this broadly, holding, “[I]t is theoretically possible for a person to cause to be concealed a firearm that is not in his or her possession, custody, or control, such as by conduct that conceals from view a firearm that is in the possession and control of another person.” People v. Padilla, 98 Cal. App. 4th 127, 138 (2002).

The Ninth Circuit held that even this constructive possession, however, amounted to unlawful "possession" of a firearm for purposes of the grounds of deportability. The court noted the laundry list of offenses covered by the firearms deportability statute and opined that it evidenced a congressional intent to construe possession broadly. Judge Rymer dissented from this holding.

The court also addressed the antique firearms exception to the deportability statute, since California law does not contain the same exception. It held that the antique firearms exception is an affirmative defense, which need not be considered under the categorical analysis--at least where the noncitizen does not assert that it applies.

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