Does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allow citizens to carry concealed weapons in public?
How about the open carry of firearms?
Most gun advocates would say yes. Here in the Four States area we feel confident in saying, generally speaking, most would say yes. But there are those who say that's not the case and that states can put significant limitations on such practices.
On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 7-4 decision that California's law requiring residents wishing to carry a concealed handgun show "good cause" for a license is constitutional.
The court ruled that while the Second Amendment allows the buying and selling of weapons and the right to have them in homes, there is no implicit right to carry guns in public.
California does not recognize personal safety as a reason to carry a handgun. And, according to the 9th Circuit, the state is within its rights to put "any prohibition or restriction" it wants on gun licensing.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote that the Constitution "demands" individuals be allowed to carry a gun for self defense.
The majority said that's up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual right not tied to service in a sanctioned military group, and that states and cities have limits on restricting gun ownership itself. But so far the nation's highest court has managed to avoid making a call specifically on concealed or open carry.
Until that time, the 9th Circuit's ruling is binding on residents of Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as well as California.
Now, the 9th Circuit is known for its liberal rulings—and the reversal of those rulings—but its ruling mirrors similar decisions by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Circuits, which cover much of the East Coast from South Carolina to Connecticut and into Vermont.
So far the7th Circuit, based in Chicago, is the highest court to strike down restrictive conditions on concealed carry licenses, but its jurisdiction is limited to Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
In our view, it is ludicrous to think the Second Amendment only allows guns in homes. Self-protection is a consideration beyond one's front door. It's time the nation's highest court makes a ruling on this issue and defines just what latitude states and cities have when it comes to the Second Amendment. Until then, we will have a patchwork of gun laws and any number of court cases challenging them.
And when the Supreme Court does eventually debate the matter, we hope they give more consideration to individual rights than government interference.