The Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about being able to carry a gun around in public. In fact it doesn’t say anything beyond granting citizens the right to possess a gun as part of a well regulated militia. Even as we continue to work to get the courts to correctly interpret the Second Amendment, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals took a major step in that direction today.
Hawaii has a law that places severe restrictions on who can carry a gun in public, whether it be “open carry” or concealed. Today the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of that law. This means that the court is essentially saying there is no inherent constitutional right to carry a gun in public, and that states can statutorily limit who can carry a gun.
The 9th Circuit’s ruling is hundreds of pages long, but our initial understanding of it is that states can place whatever limitations they want on carrying a gun in public, and that the federal government can do the same. This will now surely head to the Supreme Court, which has a mixed record on guns at best. But the 9th Circuit did just establish precedent against carrying a gun, meaning the Supreme Court would have to bend over backward to find a way to strike down that precedent.
Even as the long Supreme Court process plays out, we now have firm legal precedent that there is no constitutional right to carry a gun in public. It comes at a crucial time when mass shootings are out of control, and Congress is working on gun reform laws. It’s just the momentum that gun control advocates need.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report