Certiorari Denied October 15, 1973. See 94 S.Ct. 253.
O'SULLIVAN, Senior Circuit Judge.
We consider the appeal of Charles Thomas from conviction upon jury trial, on all counts of a four-count indictment charging violation of the federal gun control laws. In Counts I, II and III he was charged with making false or fictitious statements to a licensed firearms dealer in connection with his purchase of a handgun, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6).
The charged misrepresentations were contained in answers to questions set out in a Firearms Transaction Record (IRS Form 4473). It was stipulated that all of these answers were false in that Thomas was under indictment at the time of purchase, that he had previously been convicted of a felony and had been dishonorably discharged from the army. Thomas' defense was that while he signed the mentioned form, he was not the author of the answers made to the questions set out in the form. He said the answers had been inserted into the form by the pawnbroker-seller without asking him the relevant questions, and he had merely affixed his signature in the proper space at the direction of the dealer. The gun dealer, one Carl P. Carbon, testified that Thomas had in fact responded negatively to each of the relevant questions and that he, the gun dealer, had correctly inserted such answers into the form prior to its execution by Thomas.
Count IV of the indictment charged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1202(a) Appendix, in that prior to the time of purchase of the gun, appellant had, on April 19, 1948, and on April 22, 1948, been convicted by Courts Martial of two felonies; had on May 5, 1948, been dishonorably discharged from the army; and on March 31, 1971 (the date of purchase of the gun) did receive and possess the gun contrary to the statute which provides, in part:
Appellant received one year concurrent sentences on all four counts, which sentences were to run concurrently with the sentence imposed in another prosecution.
Appellant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence upon which he was convicted. The errors assigned to support his appeal have to do with the Court's charge, and he also attacks the constitutionality of the involved statutes. He charges:
There was some evidence that in January, 1971, Thomas told the dealer that he had been arrested. The indictment which followed such arrest, however, was not returned until February. Although Thomas did testify at one point that he had told the dealer that he was under indictment, a fair reading of his testimony makes clear that the conversation in which the general subject was discussed occurred before the indictment.
Appellant's argument is that such knowledge provided a strong incentive for such dealer to perjure himself in his testimony regarding execution of the IRS form. The involved instruction was first proposed by the prosecution, but was later withdrawn. The defense then asked that it be given, but it was not included in the Court's charge. At its conclusion, and upon invitation to do so, defense offered no criticism of the charge except to say "No, only the ones that I have made prior to this time. I have no additional comments." No specific reference was made to the instruction which was omitted, and we consider that Rule 30 F.R.Crim.P. forbids now assigning as error omission of the instruction.
Defense counsel, in his closing argument, and without objection, asserted the claimed motivation for false testimony by the dealer. Apart from application of Rule 30, the omission of the instruction did not, in our view, visit prejudice upon appellant. Adequate instructions on credibility were given to the jury, and we do not consider that it was reversible error to fail to give an instruction giving special emphasis to a defense theory already argued to the jury. Blauner v. United States, 293 F.2d 723, 738 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 931, 82 S.Ct. 368, 7 L.Ed.2d 193 (1961). In all events, if some error resides in the matter, it is harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt.
Error is charged in the Court's definition of "knowingly" as such term is used in 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) — "Knowingly to make a false oral or written statement."
The District Judge's charge included:
Although defense counsel did object to this instruction, such objection did not articulate the reason for the objection, thus to satisfy the requirement of Rule 30 F.R.Crim.P. Additionally, and independently of such shortcoming, we consider the challenged instruction was proper.
In United States v. Abrams, 427 F.2d 86 (2d Cir. 1970), the Second Circuit was dealing with a charged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 which provides:
The case then under consideration had to do with conviction of a lawyer for making false statements to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Although not considering the propriety of an instruction on the element of "knowingly," the Court said:
In United States v. Sarantos, 455 F.2d 877 (2nd Cir. 1972), the Second Circuit was again dealing with conviction of an attorney for conspiring to make false statements to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Involved was 18 U. S.C. § 1001, set out above. Considering the propriety of an instruction given to the jury, Judge Feinberg, with concurrences by Judges Friendly and Davis, said:
Further considering the quoted instruction, the Court said:
We find this criticism without substantial merit. See United States v. Sarantos, supra, 455 F.2d at 882.
Count III charged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6) because of appellant's negative answer to the question as to whether he had been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces. His answer was false. Section 922(a)(6) makes it a crime for anyone attempting acquisition of a firearm,
This statute does not directly say that a previous dishonorable discharge is a fact "material to the lawfulness of the sale." However, 18 U.S.C. § 1202(a) Appendix, makes it unlawful for one so dishonorably discharged "to receive, possess or transport" a firearm. The District Judge, correctly in our view, told the jury that a dishonorable discharge was a fact "material to the lawfulness of the sale." No objection was made to such instruction. Although no attack was made on Count III by motion or otherwise in the District Court, appellant's address to us includes this:
Appellant's wide-ranging argument to support the foregoing first asserts:
We will not attempt pursuit of the very extensive dissertation by the defense on this point. The opinion of Chief Judge Phillips, writing for this Court in United States v. Day, 476 F.2d 562 (6th Cir. 1973), makes clear and adequate answers to the above quoted attack on the gun control laws.
This argument was faced by the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Crow, 439 F.2d 1193 (9th Cir. 1971), vacated on other grounds, 404 U.S. 1009, 92 S.Ct. 687, 30 L.Ed.2d 657 (1972), where Section 1202(a) was upheld.
The Ninth Circuit, in dealing with the issue of whether the challenged statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1202(a) Appendix, required knowledge or intent, said:
We hold that Section 1202(a) Appendix is valid.
Appellant's conviction is affirmed.
"§ 922. Unlawful acts