Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 05 CR 280-Matthew F. Kennelly, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.
Before CUDAHY, RIPPLE and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.
Iron Matthews was convicted on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). On appeal, Mr. Matthews challenges his conviction on the ground that the district court committed instructional error. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.
In March 2005, Lamont Williams was arrested by local police for possession of a rifle, which Williams had intended to give to Mr. Matthews in exchange for cocaine. Williams agreed to cooperate with the police and become an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ("ATF"). At the behest of ATF agents, Williams called Mr. Matthews to inform him that he (Williams) had sold the rifle, but that he had three other firearms to sell. Mr. Matthews indicated interest, but he wanted more information about the firearms. After receiving additional information, Mr. Matthews noted that the firearms described by Williams could be useful "on the block." Tr. at 132.
Over the next two days, Williams made multiple telephone calls to Mr. Matthews to facilitate the transaction, all of which were recorded by the ATF. Williams agreed to pick up Mr. Matthews and take him to a Walgreen's parking lot where the parties could make the exchange of weapons for crack cocaine. An undercover ATF agent was waiting in the Walgreen's parking lot for Williams and Mr. Matthews; in the trunk of the agent's car was a toolbox holding the three ATF-owned firearms that Williams had described to Mr. Matthews.
Mr. Matthews met with the agent. During this meeting, the agent opened the trunk of his vehicle and told Mr. Matthews that he should look at the firearms. At that time, Mr. Matthews picked up each one of the three firearms for a few seconds to inspect it. Mr. Matthews then told the agent that "you will want three zips then," meaning three ounces of cocaine for the firearms. Tr. at 66. Mr. Matthews did not take the firearms at that time; he stated that the weapons were for his "guy" and that he had nothing of value to trade for them at that point. Tr. at 82. After the conversation, agents arrested Mr. Matthews. Following his arrest, Mr. Matthews gave a statement to the police in which he admitted to picking up and handling each of the firearms; his statement also included the following acknowledgment: "I know I broke the law just by touching the guns." Tr. at 83.
B. District Court Proceedings
Mr. Matthews was charged in a single count indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).*fn1 At trial, the Government proffered the following instruction:
Possession of an object is the ability to control it. Possession exists when an individual holds an object, in this case a firearm, even if the handling is only momentary, as long as the individual does so knowingly and intends to handle the object. A person need not own an object to possess it.
R.21 at 23. The defendant proffered a different instruction on "possession" that required that the firearm be "loaded and operable." Tr. at 165. The Government objected to Mr. Matthews' proposed instruction as inconsistent with United States v. Lane, 267 F.3d 715 (7th Cir. 2001), in which we upheld a defendant's ...