Three Federal Judges Strike Down Gun Bans
Decisions Relevant to California Open Carry lawsuit
Today, a Federal judge in Massachusetts struck down a law prohibiting legal resident aliens from possessing firearms. California had a similar law which was enacted in 1923 prohibiting such persons from possessing a handgun, even though they were still able to possess and carry loaded rifles and shotguns in public. The California courts struck down that law as unconstitutional in 1972.
Yesterday, a Federal judge in North Carolina struck down that state's ban on carrying firearms in public during declared states of emergency. Ironically, in California it is only legal to openly carry loaded firearms for self-defense during extreme states of emergency like the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Earlier this month a Federal judge in Maryland struck down that state's requirement that licenses to carry a handgun in public, openly or concealed, be issued only when the issuing authority determines that an applicant has good cause to carry a handgun. The court did not rule on whether or not it is constitutional to carry a handgun concealed but since the Maryland statute did not differentiate between open or concealed carry, licenses to carry a handgun must be issued to persons who are not otherwise disqualified from possessing a handgun.
All three cases are particularly relevant to a Federal lawsuit brought by Charles Nichols, President of California Right To Carry, who is challenging California's 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms in public. If successful, it would render the recently enacted ban on openly carrying unloaded handguns irrelevant. A person would be able to carry a loaded handgun, or long gun, in non-sensitive public places throughout California.
In a 1924 California State Supreme Court ruling upholding the law prohibiting legal resident aliens from possessing a loaded handgun, the Court cited a 19th Century case from the state of Georgia which held that a ban on carrying handguns in public was unconstitutional even though the state did not ban the carrying of long guns. The California Supreme Court in its 1924 ruling held that persons who were not born in the United States, even if they were here legally, were not entitled to possess a handgun let alone to carry one in public because of their special status. The court did observe that a complete ban on such persons carrying loaded firearms in public would likely be unconstitutional.
The US Supreme Court in its landmark decision in 2008 affirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the individual to openly carry a weapon, particularly a handgun, for the purpose of self-defense. One of the cases the High Court cited was the same 19th Century case from Georgia cited by the California Supreme Court in 1924.
Since 1924, the California courts have relied on that decision in upholding convictions for carrying handguns concealed in public without a permit.
The Federal judge in North Carolina issued an injunction against the Defendants which included the Governor of North Carolina, concluding that even a brief denial of a person's Second Amendment Right to openly carry a loaded firearm in public was unconstitutional.
Governor Brown has filed a motion to dismiss the Federal lawsuit brought by Mr. Nichols. Governor Brown claims that he is immune from such lawsuits.
Charles Nichols' interview with Reason TV
Charles Nichols, President of California Right To Carry, was interviewed by Reason.Tv's Tim Cavanaugh which aired last week.
A video of the interview is available on YouTube:
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