Posts Tagged With: concealed carry
June is always an exciting month for law geeks and political junkies. It’s the month when the U.S. Supreme Court typically issues opinions on some of the most controversial disputes of the day. This June will be no different, with high-profile decisions expected on abortion protests, Obamacare’s contraception mandate, and the president’s recess appointment power. Yet one of the lingering mysteries of this past Supreme Court term lies in a matter the justices seemingly refuse to rule on: What happened to the Second Amendment?
The justices are rarely hesitant to wade into any hot-button legal issue, including guns. Six years ago, the court made headlines when it ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to own a gun. The court expanded on that decision two years later, but this term, despite numerous invitations and opportunities, the justices went out of their way to avoid the right to bear arms.
Signs of this were clear on Monday, when the court in a 5–4 ruling upheld a major gun control law, the federal ban on “straw” purchasing without so much as mentioning the Second Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan reasoned that the background checks gun dealers are required to perform before selling someone a firearm would be “virtually repeal[ed]” if anyone could go in and buy a gun for someone else, while saying it was for him. In the dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the majority of misreading federal law, which he said was not intended to prohibit straw purchasing at all.
The justices’ failure to consider the Second Amendment was in part due to how the case was framed. The law wasn’t challenged as an infringement of the constitutional right to bear arms. The issue was one of statutory interpretation. Yet judges often look to background principles in deciding whether to read a statute broadly (as Kagan did) or narrowly (as Scalia did). One might have expected the values and concerns enshrined in the Second Amendment to at least make an appearance, if not a star turn. When the justices ignore the Second Amendment when construing a major gun control law, one suspects it isn’t merely an oversight.
Even as Second Amendment battles heat up in legislatures across the country—exemplified by Georgia’s recently adopted “guns everywhere” law permitting firearms in churches, bars, and airports—the Supreme Court refused to enter the fray. The justices declined to hear appeals in several Second Amendment cases this year. They turned away a case out of New Jersey on the constitutionality of discretionary permitting for concealed carry. They steered clear of a case challenging Texas’ ban on concealed carry by people under 21. And they denied cert in another case contesting the federal law banning gun dealers from selling handguns to people under 21.
Were the justices having second thoughts about the Second Amendment? One thing is certain: There were very strong reasons for the court to take a Second Amendment case this term. The court’s previous decisions left open two major questions: Does the Second Amendment protect the right of people to carry guns in public? And what test should courts use generally to determine the constitutionality of gun restrictions?
These questions have bedeviled the lower courts over the past few years, with judges all across the country offering contradictory answers. One federal appeals court held that police can exercise broad discretion over who can carry a gun in public, while another held the opposite. Some courts have adopted a test for Second Amendment cases that gives lawmakers considerable leeway to enact gun laws, while others have insisted on a more strict scrutiny. In some ways, the current Supreme Court jurisprudence on guns raised as many questions as it answered.
Such disagreement in the lower courts is usually the best predictor of whether the Supreme Court takes a case. The justices understand the nation’s need for uniformity, especially when it comes to individual rights. This term, however, the justices weren’t inclined to sort out any such inconsistencies involving the Second Amendment. Indeed, when expressly invited to wade in, they balked.
Über Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement, at the top of the shortlist of high-court nominees should the GOP recapture the White House in 2016, tried to goad the justices into taking a Second Amendment case. In a brief he filed on behalf of the National Rifle Association in the gun dealer case, Clement argued that the lower courts have engaged in a “pervasive pattern of stubborn resistance to this Court’s holdings” in the earlier gun cases. This language evoked the notorious “massive resistance” of Southern states to the court’s school desegregation decisions. Like the NAACP before him, he and the NRA were looking for the court to issue a clear, strong command to lower courts to read the Second Amendment broadly.
No thanks, said the court, declining to take the case. Indeed, the NRA may have been this term’s biggest loser. Not only did the court refuse to hear Clement’s case and another brought by the nation’s leading gun rights group, but it also rejected the NRA’s position outright in the straw-purchaser case just decided. In March, the court held in another case that a law banning guns to people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of “domestic violence” applied to those convicted of domestic “assault,” even if it was unclear that the assault involved violent force. Although the NRA didn’t take an official position in that case, many in its leadership were surely unhappy to see another Supreme Court ruling broadly reading a gun control law to reduce access to guns.
NRA disappointment might well turn into despair after Monday’s ruling, as Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote on the Second Amendment and so many other issues, sided with gun control advocates and the court’s liberal wing. It’s long been suspected that Kennedy signed on to the earlier Second Amendment rulings by the court only after language was inserted allowing for reasonable restrictions on guns. But the question has lingered: How far would Kennedy allow gun control to go?
That question might well have been on the minds of the other justices when they voted not to hear a Second Amendment case this year. With four justices likely in favor of broad Second Amendment rights and another four likely opposed, the scope of the right to bear arms turns on Kennedy. His views may have been sufficiently unclear that neither side wanted to take a risk of a landmark decision coming out the wrong way.
If, however, this term is any indication, Kennedy seems increasingly less likely to be a solid vote for expansive Second Amendment rights. Indeed, twice this term he voted for expansive readings of gun control laws instead. For the NRA, so used to winning in statehouses around the country, this can’t be good news. After this term, the NRA may be hoping that the Second Amendment stays out of the Supreme Court for a good, long while.
SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.
Judge Sidney Thomas dissented, writing that the good cause requirement limited the number of people carrying concealed handguns in public to those legitimately in need.
“It limits the risk to public safety by reducing the number of guns in public circulation, but allows those who will most likely need to defend themselves in public to carry a handgun,” Thomas wrote.
Awarding concealed weapon permits is the responsibility of each of California’s 58 counties. Officials are required to follow the state rules requiring applicants to show good cause and moral character.
The San Francisco-based appeals court said those requirements were too strict and ran afoul of a 5-4 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban and said law-abiding citizens are allowed to have handguns in their home for self-defense.
The appeals court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed in 2009 by Edward Peruta, who challenged San Diego County’s denial of a concealed weapons permit.
The ruling on Thursday also disagreed with three other federal appeals courts that have upheld permit rules similar to the one in California.
The U.S. Supreme Court often takes cases when federal appeals courts issue conflicting rulings.
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I might just retire in Vermont….
Vermont State Rep. Fred Maslack has read the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as Vermont’s own Constitution very carefully, and his strict interpretation of these documents is popping some eyeballs in New England and elsewhere.
Maslack recently proposed a bill to register “non-gun-owners” and require them to pay a $500 fee to the state. Thus Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of going about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun. Maslack read the “militia” phrase of the Second Amendment as not only the right of the individual citizen to bear arms, but as’a clear mandate to do so’. He believes that universal gun ownership was advocated by the Framers of the Constitution as an antidote to a “monopoly of force” by the government as well as criminals. Vermont’s constitution states explicitly that “the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State” and those persons who are “conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms” shall be required to “pay such equivalent.” Clearly, says Maslack, Vermonters have a constitutional obligation to arm themselves, so that they are capable of responding to “any situation that may arise.”
Under the bill, adults who choose not to own a firearm would be required to register their name, address, Social Security Number, and driver’s license number with the state. “There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is not prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so,” Maslack says.
Vermont already boasts a high rate of gun ownership along with the least restrictive laws of any state …. it’s currently the only state that allows a citizen to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. This combination of plenty of guns and few laws regulating them has resulted in a crime rate that is the third lowest in the nation.
“America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.” This makes sense! There is no reason why gun owners should have to pay taxes to support police protection for people not wanting to own guns.
Let them contribute their fair share and pay their own way. Sounds reasonable to me! Non-gun owners require more police to protect them and this fee should go to paying for their defense!
President Obama has been largely silent about gun control during his first term, but many gun owners have expressed concerns that he would address the issue if he is re-elected and no longer constrained by re-election worries.
Gun control advocates who have also stayed relatively quiet during Obama’s first term are already coming forward. The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has issued a new report whose recommendations include the regulation of gun designs and banning “problem drinkers” from owning firearms.
The Insider Report disclosed in April that Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Obama “intends to destroy the Second Amendment” during his second term.
LaPierre said: “All of our Second Amendment liberty, all of the rights we’ve worked so hard to defend, all of what we know is good and right about America — all of it could be lost if Barack Obama is re-elected.”
And he asserted that Obama has not pursued an anti-gun agenda during his first term because of a “political calculation” aimed at NRA supporters and gun owners who might oppose him in his re-election bid.
In its report, the Johns Hopkins Center, an arm of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said “there are enormous economic costs associated with gun violence in the U.S.,” claiming that firearm-related deaths and injuries resulted in medical and lost productivity expenses of about $32 billion in one recent year — as well as around 30,000 deaths and more than 335,000 injuries a year.
The Center’s “Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America” argues that the Second Amendment doesn’t prevent lawmakers from strengthening gun laws that are already on the books, CNS News noted in an article about the Center’s report.
Among its recommendations:
Increase the number of “high-risk individuals” who are prohibited from possessing guns by extending the ban on firearms ownership to people convicted of misdemeanors involving violence, people who committed felonies as juveniles, and alcoholics and problem drinkers.
Raise the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21.
Regulate gun sales between private individuals who are not licensed gun dealers. The Brady Law requires prospective buyers to pass a background check only if they are purchasing the gun from a licensed firearms dealer.
Boost regulation and oversight of gun sellers.
Eliminate so-called “right-to-carry” laws, which allow individuals who are not legally barred from possessing firearms to carry concealed weapons in public either by making it easy to get a permit to do so or by not requiring permits at all. The laws “do not make us safer and likely increase aggravated assaults,” the Center argues, rejecting research that shows just the opposite, CNS News observed.
Regulate the design of guns. “Not all firearms are created equal,” the report states. “Aside from ammunition capacity, other characteristics of firearms that are relevant to public safety include how easily the gun can be concealed, and how prone it is to misfire or fire unintentionally.”
Reintroduce the now-expired 1994 ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he does not favor “new pieces of legislation” on guns – “or making certain guns illegal.”
President Obama has called for enforcing the laws already on the books and for reintroducing the ban on assault weapons.
Obama’s strategy, according to the NRA’s LaPierre, is to “get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearm freedom — erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and excise it from the U.S. Constitution.”
This is a classic case of ‘when seconds count, the police are minutes away’; and yet again, the 2nd Amendment allowed the innocent folks to walk away unharmed, while the perpetrator was carried away in a body bag. And rightly so, as the individual that attempted to rob the Las Vegas Dairy Queen was wielding a samurai sword …which isn’t exactly a pocket carry Swiss Army Knife. The KLAS-TV Las Vegas website has the story:
A masked man attempting to rob a Dairy Queen with a samurai sword was shot in the chest and killed, according to Metro Police.
The incident happened around 12:19 p.m. Sunday at the Dairy Queen on South Maryland Parkway near Karen Avenue. Police say they believe the clerk fired at the man a total of two times.”
Perhaps the most amusing part about this report is that the robber apparently figured he was armed well enough to get away with it. It turns out that even if you bring a sword to a gunfight, you will still lose to a concealed carry permit holder.
However, it seems that because there was a responsible gun owner behind the counter, nobody was hurt (except for the robber, but he doesn’t exactly count at this point). Of course, the report has to say,
Police say the shooting appears to have been in self-defense. No charges have been filed against the clerk at this time.”
That police statement must have been issued by Captain Obvious, especially given the nature of the blade. There is little debate that a responsible gun owner saved the day …however, what the report seemed to leave out is what caliber was used in the shooting. Dropping the threat with only 2 shots is quite the task, and many 2nd Amendment patriots may wish to settle the 9mm-.40S&W-.45ACP debate once and for all.
Pistols and revolvers each have their own advantages and disadvantages. This article discusses the pros and cons of each type of handgun:
Generally speaking, a semiautomatic pistol is a handgun where the magazine slides into the grip of the gun, and some of the energy from firing the gun is used to eject the spent cartridge and load a fresh one. Compared to revolvers, pistols have the benefits of a larger magazine capacity (often as high as 15 rounds on larger pistols), easier trigger pull, faster rate of fire, and a more compact shape. On the down side, pistols are not as mechanically simple as revolvers, and rely upon the first round firing successfully in order for the second round to be cycled into the chamber. This means that revolvers may be better suited for self defense, at least for people who don’t take meticulous care of their guns. That said, the reliability of modern pistols is exceptionally high.
Revolvers have multiple chambers contained in a cylinder, each which holds a round. When the trigger is pulled, the cylinder rotates and a new chamber is lined up with the barrel. The gun then fires. This system has various advantages and disadvantages over a pistol. First, a revolver is very mechanically simple, and there is little that can go wrong with the firing process. This means a revolver may be a good choice for self defense, especially for those who don’t clean and care for their guns as often as they should. On the down side, revolvers tend to be bulkier than pistols, heavier than pistols, and tend to hold fewer rounds. Additionally, many of the safety features available on modern pistols are not available on revolvers.
No matter which type of gun you select, be sure to handle it safely, store your gun safely, and practice firing it often. The level of responsibility and skill that the use demonstrates matter more than the specific pros and cons of the gun itself.
Police say that a concealed carry permit holder and his girlfriend went out to eat at the Applebee’s restaurant located on the 4700 block of 4th St North, but found the parking lot was full, forcing them to park just North of the restaurant in a dark area. Upon getting out of the vehicle, a masked and armed robber reportedly rushed towards the woman, at which point her boyfriend yelled for her to duck, according to news reports. Acing in defense of his girlfriend and himself, the concealed carry permit holder drew and fired his .380 pistol, striking the robber and ending the attack, police say. The permit holder is said to have flagged down a passing police officerwho apprehended a wounded suspect – who reportedly had a loaded .25 caliber pistol in his possession. Neither the permit holder nor his girlfriend were harmed, and the suspect faces attempted armed robbery charges, police say.