Friday, August 3, 2018

9th Circuit: 2nd Amendment Protects Right to Carry Firearms in Public For Self-Defense

In a recent appellate court decision, the 9th Circuit weighed in on how much the Second Amendment protects, or does not protect, carrying of firearms outside of the home.

In Young v. Hawaii, an individual challenged the constitutionality of a Hawai'i law requiring gun owners to keep their firearms at either their place of business or at home. The law provides an exception. Residents can apply to carry a firearm, either concealed or openly, with the local chief of police. However, the applicants must demonstrate a need to protect “person or property.”

George Young wished to carry a firearm publicly for self-defense. He applied twice with the County of Hawai'i’s Chief of Police. The Chief denied his application twice.  In fact, no one other than a security guard had ever been issued an open carry license. After his second application was denied, Mr. Young challenged the constitutionality of the law.

In a lengthy majority opinion, which examined the history and language of the Second Amendment, the Court held the Constitutional right to “bear arms” necessarily “implies some level of public carry in case of confrontation.” Accordingly, the Court ruled that the Hawaiian law unnecessarily restricts Mr. Young’s right to carry a firearm openly.

The Court specifically noted that restricting open carry to those who job entails protecting life and/or property restricts open carry to a “small and insulated” subset of law-abiding citizens. For that reason, the Court stated that the Hawai'i law “violated the core of the Second Amendment.”  

Currently, there is a split among several federal courts on these issues. Accordingly, this case may move forward to the Supreme Court.