Less than 24 hours after word erupted in Washington the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed 2nd Amendment gun-ownership rights for all Americans, a lawsuit has been filed over a practice in North Carolina of banning guns during “emergencies.”
The case was brought today in federal court for the Eastern District in North Carolina by the Second Amendment Foundation and Grass Roots North Carolina, a leading gun-rights group in the state.
Also taking the lead in the challenge to state officials are Michael Bateman, Virgil Green and Forrest Minges Jr. Defendants in the action are North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue; Reuben Young, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety; Stokes County; and the city of King.
The complaint claims that state statutes forbidding the carrying of firearms or ammunition when officials declare “states of emergency” are unconstitutional. Further, the plaintiffs say a state law allowing the government to prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition is unconstitutional.
The basis for the case is Monday’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in a dispute over a Chicago handgun ban. The decision incorporated the 2nd Amendment rights to the states.
“We intend to show that state emergency-powers statutes that allow government officials to suspend fundamental civil rights, including the right to bear arms, are unconstitutional and therefore should be nullified,” said Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation founder.
“Citizens do not surrender their civil rights just because of a natural or man-made disaster,” he said.
The organization, which worked on the Chicago case, too, also is being represented by attorney Alan Gura, who won the Supreme Court judgment on behalf of Chicago’s 2nd Amendment supporters. He also was integral to the 2008 Heller decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in which a Washington, D.C., handgun ban was overturned.
WND reported earlier this year when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a “declared snow emergency.”
North Carolina is among the states that allow such actions. Under its statute 14-288.7, when a municipality declares a state of emergency in which “public-safety authorities are unable to … afford adequate protection for lives or property” – such as during the recent East Coast record snowfall – “it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon.”
In other words, when police can’t get through on the roads, the citizens can’t take guns off their own property.
“This has to be the most ridiculous event of the century!” protested a commenter at the time on the website of Winston-Salem’s WXII-TV, which reported the ban. “This is the ultimate denial of liberties for the most asinine reason … bad weather!”
Other similar plans are possible in Pennsylvania. In Colorado and Georgia, state lawmakers have tried to eliminate the option for authorities.
It flipped “the burden onto the government and legislatures to show why they need to restrict what the court has already said is an individual right,” John Velleco, the director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told WND after the Supreme Court’s decision Monday.
In the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that the 2nd Amendment’s right to be armed was an individual right, but the case pertained only to the District of Columbia. With the decision in the case brought by Otis McDonald of Chicago, the high court applied the definition to all the states.
“The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an evenhanded manner,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.
There is other action on the state level regarding gun rights. Already, eight states have adopted laws that specifically exempt guns made, sold and kept inside the states from any federal gun regulations.
A court case already has developed over that effort in Montana – the first state to take the step of ordering federal regulators to stay out of the state’s business of regulating its own citizenry’s weapons.
In one state, Wyoming, lawmakers even adopted a $2,000 penalty for federal agents trying to enforce federal regulations against an exempted weapon.
WND columnist John Stossel also noted just days ago how “more guns means – hold onto your seat – less crime.”
“How can that be, when guns kill almost 30,000 Americans a year? Because while we hear about the murders and accidents, we don’t often hear about the crimes stopped because would-be victims showed a gun and scared criminals away. Those thwarted crimes and lives saved usually aren’t reported to police (sometimes for fear the gun will be confiscated), and when they are reported, the media tend to ignore them. No bang, no news,” he said.
“If guns save lives, it logically follows that gun laws cost lives,” he continued.
“Suzanna Hupp and her parents were having lunch at Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, when a man began shooting diners with his handgun, even stopping to reload. Suzanna’s parents were two of the 23 people killed. (Twenty more were wounded.) Suzanna owned a handgun, but because Texas law at the time did not permit her to carry it with her, she left it in her car. She’s confident that she could have stopped the shooting spree if she had her gun. (Texas has since changed its law.)”
The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “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.”
Furthermore, Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, or the Privileges or Immunities Clause, states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.