Skip to comments.New Gun Rights Suit In D.C. Tests 2nd Amend Limit
Posted on 08/08/2009 7:08:30 AM PDT by marktwain
One question left unanswered by the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Second Amendment ruling last year is this: When do law-abiding Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense?
In a lawsuit filed against the city of Washington, D.C. on Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation aims to find out.
The plaintiffs are four gun owners who were denied licenses to carry firearms in public on their person, which nearly all states permit. All U.S. states except Illinois and Wisconsin grant licenses for concealed carry, and 36 states require local police to issue the licenses unless there's a valid reason (such as a criminal history) not to do so.
The District of Columbia is a special case. Its city code says nobody may carry "either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, without a license." But a law enacted in December 2008 appears to have curbed the ability of the police chief to grant those licenses.
"This really isn't about concealed carry," Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told CBSNews.com in an interview on Thursday evening. "It's about being able to carry a gun, period. D.C. can prescribe some form or fashion or regulation or restrictions, but there's no way they can say you can't do it at all."
Part of the blame for this uncertainty -- how far does the Second Amendment extend? -- can be laid at the doors of no less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the D.C. v. Heller case, the justices struck down the District's no-handguns-in-your-own-home ban on the grounds that it violated the Second Amendment, but they weren't terribly specific about what else might or might not cross the line.
Put another way, the text of the Second Amendment says that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Last year's Heller case dealt with the right to keep arms, but what about the right to bear arms?
The justices' majority opinion acknowledged that "at the time of the founding, as now, to 'bear' meant to 'carry,'" and that the phrase "'bear arms' was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia." Also: "We find that (the clauses) guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.""
Just to make things more complicated, though, the majority opinion also says: "Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
Permitting law-abiding Americans to carry loaded firearms on their person doesn't fall squarely into one of those categories, which has given gun rights groups some reason to be optimistic in the current lawsuit against Washington, D.C.
"We're not against all gun laws or forms of gun control here," Gottlieb said. "We're not saying that you can bring your gun to the Capitol building or the White House. But there are obviously places where you should be able to carry a gun for self-defense."
This is one case that's more likely than most to end up at the Supreme Court once again. Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed as an associate justice on Thursday, but few court watchers expect that to make a difference: as I wrote in May, both she and David Souter (her predecessor) appear to believe the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Thursday's complaint filed against the District invokes two constitutional rights: First, it says that general bans on "carrying of handguns in public violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution"; and second, that the city's repeated refusals to grant permits "violate the rights to travel and equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment."
The only problem with that approach is that even though the Supreme Court said that a constitutional right to keep and bear arms exists, subsequent rulings by appellate courts have routinely said it's so limited that it doesn't have much meaning in practice. (One of those cases involved Sotomayor, and another involved a California anti-gun law.) If anti-gun types can convince judges to continue this approach, they may be able to win the next few rounds even though the Heller decision is technically the law of the land.
Our forefathers never intended our 2A rights to be restricted to home use only. It was unconceivable that people would have to unload their firearms and lock them in a strong box or saddlebag when leaving their home to travel by buggy or horse.
In New jersey you can forget about a carry permit if you are not in law enforcement or "connected" to the right people. You have to prove the need, and the proof of need is almost never deemed sufficient.
most parts of ca and much of NY also.
Whenever they feel like it.
What part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED do these morons not understand?
Yep! No concealed carry in Illinois. Maybe that’s why cities like Chicago are such models of peace and security.
The very concept of having to get permission in the form of a license to carry a firearm is a violation of the 2nd ammendment. No gov’t entity has the authority to tell a citizen of the US where he can or can’t be armed, or with what.
Permitting law-abiding Americans to carry loaded firearms on their person doesn't fall squarely into one of those categories,
Why use the word "squarely"? It doesn't fall into those categories squarely, roundly, or in a parallelogram.
I agree. Some of the phrasing, such as "anti-gun types" seems quite non-hoplophobic. Also, they let Gura talk at length as opposed to finding some wino under a bridge and having him rave as the pro-gun "rebuttal", like they usually do.
Then the process should be challenged on "equal protection" grounds.
Of course I'm an absolutist, and see the requirement for such a permit, to be an "infringement". Although I have one, I'm also practical minded.
Thank you, Second Amendment Foundation.
Every single gun group has asked the Supreme Court to take the open view of the Second Amendment during the Heller case except one. Had the Court taken the more open view, we wouldn’t have to sue 20,000 times to get rid of 20,000 gun laws.
The single gun group that asked for the narrow Heller decision was the goa. Now the goa still hasn’t tried to set things right by suing based on Heller.
Thanks for nothing, goa.
goa = AWOL
LOL! While some would lament a SCOTUS decision on the right to keep and bear arms, (while preferring a state-by-state interpretation), it is of such importance and it's impact on America so significant, that it's correct and full meaning needs to be legitimized once and for all, thus restoring it's full force of law potential.
Anything less (which is what we have today) amounts to a 'nullification' of the intent and purpose of the Founders such that it may as well have been repealed or never written at all.
Given the time and expense in putting the 2A into words and finally on 'paper', I'm certain our Founding Fathers would look upon our courts with disgust at their willful denial of it's clearly stated meaning.
So, what has this 'deviation' from the wisdom of the second ammendment costs us as a society? We could start with 2+million in prison (at about $45,000 each) and add to that the amount those who might still be alive (had they been 'armed' to defend themselves) could have earned (and not cost the taxpayer directly for family support, etc.)
But these are only 'self-defense' examples. What of the nature of the relationship between our government and the people it represents? Here too, we have paid a cost as citizens denied a basic right, in the form of fraud, waste, and abuse by officials who harbor no fear from constituents made defenseless by the courts.
It's much easier to 'rob' an unarmed man, and we have been 'unarmed' far too long.(and where is the national debt? Hmmm?)
As we stand at the edge of the cliff known as Health Care Reform and peer at the depths below, many are reluctant to accept the nudge by the media and administration (regime?) toward an abandonement of a market driven system toward a socialized system of medical care delivery.
What advantage would an armed society have to an un-armed one in this instance? First, Change* would come more gradually- whereas tectonic Changes would not even be conceivable.
Elected officials would take a long look at any proposal where one-fifth of the economy was in jeopardy of becoming bureaucrat driven (as it is in communist, socialist, centrally planned economies), rather than market driven (as are most services in democracies that benefit from the efficiencies built-in to competitive, free market, private enterprise driven economies).
More to the point: a well 'regulated' and well armed society would not have elected the likes of Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Chuck Shumer, Frank Lautenburg and other opportunists to office. Not a single representative who currently trades in giving away our treasury to buy elective office would be in office today. Think about that and what this savings alone would amount to today.
Crime in the streets and crime at the national level both spring from the same source- an unarmed populace- primed for exploitation, robbery, and ultimately, subjugation.
I refuse to cower in my home from a gang down the street. I refuse to cower in my State from a gang in Washington, D.C. The second ammendment is the answer to both and was written just so. Plain and simple.
Oh I forgot its ole 2.5 shooter, the GOA hating NRA member
Here is a recent thread where you spewed your typical, and not very enlightened, rant without listening to a word someone else says Typical 2.5 shooter whining rant about the GOA.
and here you are in another thread and using your typical whining rant with me 2.5 gets the real facts and then gets caught in a couple of, well lets say factual distortions.
...and after getting your butt severely kicked to the curb, you then resorted to distortions, twisting everyones words and then out right lying about your actions in attempting to defend your weak bias.
Many people have answered your stupid questions MANY times; you just refuse to see it. Point is if you cant have an honest debate fighting a common enemy, then do everyone else a favor stay on the sidelines and argue with yourself, dont try to distort the focus of this fight.
Every 2A group, no matter what you may think of them should be WELCOMED to the struggle we are facing, many former NRA members, myself included, who definitely have no love for the NRA leadership have been going back into the group because the stakes are so high, dont let your petty bias cloud the big picture.
AOV sends with warmest regards.
Is there any reason anyone should join the goa that constantly criticizes the NRA while they never have done a single thing on their own?
Did you ever ask them to do anything on their own? I have and never received an answer. AWOL
Did you ever ask the goa why they took the narrow view? Thanks for nothing, goa.
Did you ever ask them why they turned their backs on lawsuits against New Orleans, Oak Park, San Francisco, Winnetka, Morton Grove etc.
You remember Morton Grove, don't you? The gun ban is no more. Thanks for doing nothing while the SAF and the NRA are doing the heavy lifting while getting criticized by fools who throw their money to do nothing.
Fools that throw their money at a do nothing group like the goa are doing nothing for gun rights. Sit back, do nothing and throw your money at a tshirt company.