Monday, March 3, 2014

Wyoming leads 19 states to challenge New Jersey’s concealed handgun law

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming leads 19 states to challenge New Jersey’s concealed handgun law. The Wyoming-led coalition is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let them submit a brief supporting a New Jersey man’s challenge to that state’s concealed weapons law. Other states joining in the effort are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. The Wyoming attorney general’s office, acting as lawyer for the states, asked the Supreme Court to grant a hearing to John M. Drake and others who are challenging a recent appeals court ruling.

New Jersey’s law requires its citizens to prove a justifiable need to be granted a concealed weapons license. The state does not accept the desire for self-defense as a justifiable need – there must be a demonstrable “urgent necessity.” New Jersey’s legal code specifies:
In the case of a private citizen shall specify in detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun. Where possible the applicant shall corroborate the existence of any specific threats or previous attacks by reference to reports of such incidents to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Drake, of Fredon, N.J., is a business owner who owns and services ATMs, requiring him carry large amounts of cash at times. “It seems unreasonable to me to have to wait until you’re beaten up or shot at to get a permit,” Drake said.

The brief from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office says that Wyoming and the other states are concerned that if the appeals court ruling stands, it could threaten their less-restrictive concealed carry laws. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said, “This decision out of New Jersey impacts the right to keep and bear arms outside of the home… If the current decision stands, states providing greater protections than New Jersey under the Second Amendment may be pre-empted by future federal action… so I felt it was necessary to have the attorney general support a petition to the Supreme Court to hear this case.”

If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case, it may clear up confusion from contradictory rulings by the appellate circuit courts. Last summer, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Drake’s challenge to the provision in New Jersey law that says people seeking permits to carry a concealed firearm must prove to police that they have a justifiable need.

However, last year the 7th Circuit Court ruled that the Second Amendment does protect the right to carry a weapon outside of the home for self-defense. Justice Robert R. Thomas, who wrote the court’s decisions cites Madigan v. Moore as well as the Supreme Court cases, D.C. v. Heller, which ruled the Second Amendment is an individual right to bear arms and that the core purpose is for self-defense, and McDonald v. Chicago, which held that the Second Amendment applies to states laws via the 14th Amendment. Justice Thomas wrote that “neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the Second Amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary, both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home.”

This year, the 9th Circuit Court struck down California’s concealed-weapons permitting laws, saying the requirement of citizens to show “good cause” before being allowed to obtain a concealed carry permit violated the Second Amendment. The 9th Circuit, like the 7th Circuit ruling, relied on the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions. The 9th Circuit also cited Muscarello v. United States, (which is also referenced in the Heller decision) for a definition of what it means to “bear arms,” noting “that surely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment indicates: wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.” The 9th Circuit stated “people are more sensibly said to bear Arms in nondomestic settings.”

This author has argued that, though falling short of explicitly stating the Second Amendment extends outside of the home, based on what the Supreme Court did state in Heller the only rational conclusion one could reach is the Second Amendment does, in fact, extend outside of the home. In Heller, the Court stated several lawful purposes exist for the Second Amendment: self-defense, hunting, militia duty, resisting tyranny from the government, repelling an invasion, and suppressing insurrection. All but self-defense require one to have a firearm outside of the home; while self-defense may be inside or outside of one’s home. If the Supreme Court hears the case, they may clear once and for all what is plainly – though not explicitly – stated in its own previous rulings: that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms outside of the home.

By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell TowersThe Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.

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This article also appears on The Brenner Brief. (Original publication March 3, 2014).

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