4 years, 5 months ago
Cases involving carrying weapons outside the home have been appealed to the Supreme Court in the past. In part because of the wording of the decision and in part because of the various federal courts denying the right to carry outside the home (even in the wake of Heller and McDonald, see also here), I have claimed and always believed that Heller was a weak decision. It has always needed clarification regarding the right to bear arms, not just own them. Scalia equivocated in his verbiage in Heller, and even then there were dissenting Justices on the Supreme Court.
Now, Alan Gura, of notoriety from the Heller case, is back in the news and may in fact be back before the Supreme Court.
On a roll in recent years, a gun-rights group pressed its advantage in a federal appeals court Wednesday, seeking to extend Second Amendment rights through a challenge to Maryland’s handgun permit laws.
“We’re not challenging the constitutionality of having a licensing system,” Alan Gura, a lawyer for the Second Amendment Foundation, told the three-judge panel in a case involving a Baltimore County man’s permit renewal. Rather, he argued that Maryland unnecessarily restricts the right to carry firearms.
Gura said the issue is a narrow one, but much of the argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit revolved around how to apply recent Supreme Court decisions to the public carrying of firearms, which could have far-reaching implications.
In two other cases Gura won, the high court struck down Illinois and District of Columbia laws that effectively outlawed handgun ownership. But the court did not directly address the right to bear arms for self-defense outside the home.
The Maryland case offers gun-rights advocates a chance to win a broader reading of the Second Amendment, upending the state’s handgun permit process along the way.
Under state law, Marylanders must show “good and substantial reason” to obtain a handgun permit. In March, a federal district judge struck down that requirement, ruling it unconstitutional.
The Maryland attorney general’s office, fearing a spike in gun violence, appealed the decision, and the federal court of appeals allowed the law to stand while the case is resolved.
Gura argued Wednesday that because the Supreme Court has held that bearing arms is a fundamental right, people do not need to give public officials a reason they should be allowed to exercise it. He asked the court to consider the implications of applying that standard to other rights such as speech.
“There’s no way we can apply such a restriction to the right to bear arms,” he said.
Although Mr. Obama stated his real intentions rather clearly during the debates, this wasn’t really necessary. He told us how he felt about our second amendment rights even before that. Recall that he nominated Andrew Traver to head the ATF, Traver working hard with the Joyce Foundation to develop recommendations for a new regulatory framework for guns involving among other things federal oversight (National Institutes of Health) of the firearms manufacturing industry. Obama also nominated Caitlin J. Halligan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, who wanted to hold gun manufacturers responsible for crimes commited with their products (a position that even the New York Court of Appeals rejected).
The next President will appoint Supreme Court Justices. He will also appoint judges to the appeals courts, and although I could easily come up with 101 reasons to vote Mr. Obama out of office, preserving our second amendment rights is as good a place to start as any.