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McLaughlin v. United States

U.S.
Apr 29, 1986
476 U.S. 16 (1986)

Summary

holding that the immediate danger of a violent response to display of an unloaded firearm is “independently sufficient” to support the conclusion that an unloaded firearm is a “dangerous weapon” within the meaning of the federal bank robbery statute

Summary of this case from United States v. Harris

Opinion

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

No. 85-5189.

Argued March 31, 1986 Decided April 29, 1986

On the basis of his display of an unloaded handgun in the course of a bank robbery, petitioner was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d), which provides an enhanced penalty for assault by use of a "dangerous weapon" during a bank robbery.

Held: An unloaded handgun is a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of § 2113(d). Pp. 17-18.

Affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Stephen J. Cribari, by appointment of the Court, 474 U.S. 1003, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Fred Warren Bennett.

Christopher J. Wright argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Fried, Assistant Attorney General Trott, Deputy Solicitor General Frey, and Joel M. Gershowitz.


The question presented is whether an unloaded handgun is a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of the federal bank robbery statute.

At about 9:30 a.m. on July 26, 1984, petitioner and a companion, both wearing stocking masks and gloves, entered a bank in Baltimore. Petitioner thereupon displayed a dark handgun and ordered everyone in the bank to put his hands up and not to move. While petitioner remained in the lobby area holding the gun, his companion vaulted the counter and placed about $3,400 in a brown paper bag. The two robbers were apprehended by a police officer as they left the bank. Petitioner's gun was not loaded.

Petitioner pleaded guilty to charges of bank robbery and bank larceny and, on the basis of stipulated evidence, was found guilty of assault during a bank robbery "by the use of a dangerous weapon." The latter conviction depends on the validity of the District Court's conclusion that petitioner's unloaded gun was a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d). The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court, and so do we.

The federal bank robbery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2113, provides in pertinent part:
"(a) Whoever, by force and violence, or by intimidation, takes, or attempts to take, from the person or presence of another any property or money or any other thing of value belonging to, or in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of, any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association . . .
. . . . .
"Shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
"(b) Whoever takes and carries away, with intent to steal or purloin, any property or money or any other thing of value exceeding $100 belonging to, or in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; . . .
. . . . .
"(d) Whoever, in committing, or in attempting to commit, any offense defined in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, assaults any person, or puts in jeopardy the life of any person by the use of a dangerous weapon or device, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than twenty-five years, or both."

We granted certiorari, 474 U.S. 944 (1985), to resolve an apparent conflict. See, e. g., United States v. Wardy, 777 F.2d 101, 105-106 (CA2 1985); United States v. Terry, 760 F.2d 939, 942 (CA9 1985).

Three reasons, each independently sufficient, support the conclusion that an unloaded gun is a "dangerous weapon." First, a gun is an article that is typically and characteristically dangerous; the use for which it is manufactured and sold is a dangerous one, and the law reasonably may presume that such an article is always dangerous even though it may not be armed at a particular time or place. In addition, the display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen; as a consequence, it creates an immediate danger that a violent response will ensue. Finally, a gun can cause harm when used as a bludgeon.

The floor debate on the provision that became § 2113(d) indicates that Congress regarded incitement of fear as sufficient to characterize an apparently dangerous article (such as a wooden gun) as "dangerous" within the meaning of the statute. See 78 Cong. Rec. 8132 (1934) (colloquy among Reps. Sumners, Blanton, and Dockweiler).

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is

Affirmed.


Summaries of

McLaughlin v. United States

U.S.
Apr 29, 1986
476 U.S. 16 (1986)

holding that the immediate danger of a violent response to display of an unloaded firearm is “independently sufficient” to support the conclusion that an unloaded firearm is a “dangerous weapon” within the meaning of the federal bank robbery statute

Summary of this case from United States v. Harris

holding that the immediate danger of a violent response to display of an unloaded firearm is "independently sufficient" to support the conclusion that an unloaded firearm is a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of the federal bank robbery statute

Summary of this case from United States v. Harris

holding that an unloaded gun was a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of the federal bank robbery statute partly due to potential harm when used as a bludgeon

Summary of this case from United States v. Orr

holding that unloaded handguns are "dangerous weapons" under sec. 2113(d)

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Smith

holding that unloaded handgun used during bank robbery was dangerous weapon for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d), since display of gun would incite fear in the average citizen and thereby create risk of a violent response

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Sturgis

holding that an "unloaded gun was a `dangerous weapon'" within the meaning of the law while noting that "the display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen; as a consequence, it creates an immediate danger that a violent response will ensue"

Summary of this case from United States v. Hunn

holding that unloaded handgun is "dangerous weapon" under federal bank robbery statute on the grounds that a gun "is always dangerous even though it may not be armed"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bailey

holding that an unloaded gun is a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Voyles

holding that an unloaded gun is a dangerous weapon because, inter alia, "the display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen; as a consequence, it creates an immediate danger that a violent response will ensue...."

Summary of this case from Kinard v. United States

holding unloaded gun is a “dangerous weapon” within meaning of federal bank robbery statute

Summary of this case from State v. Brooks

holding that an unloaded handgun is a "dangerous weapon" under the Federal Bank Robbery Act ( 18 U.S.C. § 2113)

Summary of this case from People v. Lincoln

finding even an unloaded gun to be a "dangerous weapon"

Summary of this case from Berrios v. United States

affirming lower court's conclusion that petitioner's unloaded gun was a "`dangerous weapon' within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Holt

recognizing that "the display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bowen

noting that "a gun can cause harm when used as a bludgeon"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bowen

noting that "the display of a gun instills fear in the average citizen"

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bowen

stating that a "gun is an article that is typically and characteristically dangerous . . . and the law reasonably may presume that such an article is always dangerous. . . ."

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bowen

In McLaughlin v. United States, 476 U.S. 16 (1986), the Supreme Court held that an unloaded gun is a "dangerous weapon" as that term is used in Section 2113(d).

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Beckett

In McLaughlin v. United States, 476 U.S. 16, 106 S.Ct. 1677, 90 L.Ed.2d 15 (1986), the Supreme Court construed the "dangerous weapon" language of the statute to encompass an unloaded gun used in the commission of a bank robbery.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Hamrick

In McLaughlin, a unanimous Supreme Court held, in an opinion that was barely two pages long, that an un loaded handgun used to commit an assault during a bank robbery is a "dangerous weapon" under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d), the federal bank robbery statute.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Hamrick

In McLaughlin, where the court held that an unloaded gun could be a "dangerous weapon" under that statute, the Solicitor General argued that weapons that are concealed and unmentioned do not suffice for conviction under the aggravated robbery statute (18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)) because "the robber has not `used' the weapon to `assault' anyone".

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Bailey

construing § 2113(d), where Congress was concerned with dangerous weapons inciting fear and apprehension in victims

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Robinson

In McLaughlin v. United States, 476 U.S. 16, 17-18, 106 S.Ct. 1677, 1678, 90 L.Ed.2d 15 (1986), the Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of "dangerous weapon" as used in 18 U.S.C. § 2113, the federal bank robbery statute.

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Hamrick

In McLaughlin v. United States, 476 U.S. 16, 106 S.Ct. 1677, 90 L.Ed.2d 15 (1986), the Supreme Court held that an unloaded gun is a "dangerous weapon" within the meaning of § 2113(d).

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Perry

listing three reasons why an unloaded gun is a dangerous weapon

Summary of this case from U.S. v. Spedalieri
Case details for

McLaughlin v. United States

Case Details

Full title:McLAUGHLIN v . UNITED STATES

Court:U.S.

Date published: Apr 29, 1986

Citations

476 U.S. 16 (1986)
106 S. Ct. 1677

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