A federal appeals court ruled recently that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to openly carry a gun in public for self-defense.
The 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Hawaiian officials had violated George Young’s rights when he was denied a permit to openly carry a loaded gun in public to protect himself.
The three-judge panel’s decision reversed a lower court ruling that sided with officials who said the amendment only applied to guns kept in homes.
“We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence, which the State of Hawaii ‘has understandably sought to fight,'” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote. “But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”
Gun rights is one of the most hotly debated issues in U.S. political
The United States Supreme Court struck down gun ownership bans in the District of Columbia and Chicago in 2008 and 2010, but has been reluctant in recent years to take on such cases, turning away challenges to gun restrictions.
Judge Richard Clifton noted in his dissent that several appeals courts have come down on different sides of whether guns can be openly carried in public, saying: “There is no single voice on this question.” He suggested the Supreme Court will inevitably have to weigh in.
Clifton, who like the other judges was appointed by a Republican president, criticized the majority for going “astray in several respects” and disregarding that states such as Hawaii have long regulated and limited the public carrying of guns, which he said did not undermine the core of the 2nd Amendment.
Tuesday’s ruling comes two years after a full panel of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit ruled that there’s no right to carry concealed guns in public. That June 2016 ruling struck down a 2-1 panel opinion that was also written by O’Scannlain.
Attorney Alan Beck, who represented Young, said Hawaii County never issued a carry permit in 20 years. Young, a Vietnam veteran who spent 21 years in the infantry, couldn’t find anyone to represent him in his case and wasn’t even allowed to argue his case in a lower court.
Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki said he planned to consult with the county and work with them on any further action.
“We are disappointed in the decision that would undermine Hawaii’s strong gun control law and our commitment to protect the public,” Suzuki said in a statement, though he noted the “well-reasoned dissent supporting the constitutionality of this law.”
The Second Amendment was adopted in 1789 and reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”