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U.S. Appeals Court Rules Citizens Don’t Have Right To Carry Guns In Public

San Francisco, CA – The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that citizens do not have the right to carry firearms in public under the Second Amendment, regardless as to whether they are being carried concealed or openly.

An en banc panel of the appeals court voted 7-4 to uphold a Hawaii County law requiring residents to demonstrate “the urgency or need” to carry a gun in order to be licensed to carry openly, American Military News reported.

Applicants must also be of good moral character and “engaged in the protection of life and property” to be considered for licensure, according to the news outlet.

According to the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office, every private citizen who applied for carry licenses in Hawaii in 2020 had their applications denied, the New York Post reported.

In fact, no one other than security guards have ever been issued open-carry licenses within the state, Hawaii County lawyers admitted in 2018, according to Courthouse News.

Carry licenses were granted to 123 employees of private security firms who applied for them last year, the New York Post reported.

The appeals court’s decision was the result of a lawsuit filed by Hawaii resident George Young, who argued that not being allowed to carry a gun for self-defense violates his rights under the Second Amendment, the Associated Press reported.

A judge ruled in 2012 that the Second Amendment only applies to firearms kept inside residences.

Young successfully appealed the case before a panel of three federal appeals court judges, but the State of Hawaii pushed for the case to be heard by a larger panel of judges, the Associated Press reported.

In its decision on Wednesday, the 11-judge panel ruled citizens have “no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment,” American Military News reported.

“We can find no general right to carry arms into the public square for self-defense,” the majority opinion stated, adding that the Second Amendment applies only to “defense of hearth and home.”

“The power of the government to regulate carrying arms in the public square does not infringe in any way on the right of an individual to defend his home or business,” the majority opinion read.

The court further noted that it previously ruled that citizens “do not have a Second Amendment right to carry concealed weapons in public,” so Wednesday’s decision effectively eradicated Hawaii residents’ right to carry guns in public at all – regardless as to whether they are carried openly or concealed, American Military News reported.

“The government may regulate, and even prohibit, in public places — including government buildings, churches, schools, and markets — the open carrying of small arms capable of being concealed, whether they are carried concealed or openly,” the majority opinion read, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Three of the dissenting judges argued that the “majority’s suggestion that the values of federalism somehow preclude the Second Amendment from guaranteeing an individual right to carry arms for self-defense in the public square is fundamentally misguided,” according to American Military News.

“Hawaii’s severe deprivation of the core right to carry a firearm in public can only be understood as amounting to a total destruction of such right,” they wrote.

Senior U.S. Circuit Court Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who wrote the lead dissent, called the ruling “as unprecedented as it is extreme,” the New York Post reported.

“At its core, the [Second] Amendment protects the ordinary, law-abiding citizen’s right to carry a handgun openly for purposes of self-defense outside the home,” O’Scannlain said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Despite an exhaustive historical account, the majority has unearthed nothing to disturb this conclusion.”

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,’” he continued, according to the New York Post. “Today, a majority of our court has decided that the Second Amendment does not mean what it says. Instead, the majority holds that while the Second Amendment may guarantee the right to keep a firearm for self-defense within one’s home, it provides no right whatsoever to bear—i.e., to carry—that same firearm for self defense in any other place.”

Young’s attorney, Alan Beck, says he intends to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appeals court’s ruling does not alter any of the open-carry laws in other states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit, which oversees Washington, Oregon, the Northern Mariana Islands, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Guam, California, Arizona, and Alaska, according to the New York Post.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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