A federal judge has struck down a North Carolina provision that authorizes a ban on firearms and ammunition outside homes during "a declared emergency," determining that violates the Second Amendment.
Word on the decision comes from Second Amendment Foundation, which has been taking on local and state restrictions ever since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Americans, under the Constitution, have the right to keep and bear arms.
The case was brought by the SAF, Grass Roots North Carolina FFE and three individuals against Gov. Beverly Purdue and Reuben F. Young, secretary of the state's Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
WND reported earlier when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a "declared snow emergency."
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North Carolina is among the states that allowed 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 a 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.
The SAF targeted the North Carolina statute among its many court cases in recent years, and the federal court agreed there was a problem.
Judge Malcolm J. Howard wrote, "…the court finds that the statutes at issue here are subject to strict scrutiny …While the bans imposed pursuant to these statutes may be limited in duration, it cannot be overlooked that the statutes strip peaceable, law abiding citizens of the right to arm themselves in defense of hearth and home, striking at the very core of the Second Amendment."
"When SAF attorney Alan Gura won the Heller case at the Supreme Court," noted SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, "the gun ban crowd said that we were a 'one-trick-pony' and that we would never knock out another gun law. Well, SAF has now knocked out gun laws in Maryland, Illinois and North Carolina.
"We filed this lawsuit on the day we won the McDonald case against Chicago," he added, "extending the Second Amendment to all 50 states. This was part of our strategy of winning firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time."
In the precedent-setting Otis McDonald case challenging Chicago's gun restrictions, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals. The decision followed the 2008 Heller case in the District of Columbia that declared the Second Amendment to be an individual right. That case, however, pertained only to D.C. The McDonald case established the precedent nationwide.
Gottlieb pointed to how Howard's decision solidifies the Second Amendment's reach outside the home.
The judge noted that the Supreme Court in Heller noted that the right to keep and bear arms "was valued not only for preserving the militia, but 'more important(ly) for self-defense and hunting.'
"Therefore," Malcolm wrote, "the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is not strictly limited to the home environment but extends in some form to wherever those activities or needs occur."
His opinion also noted, "Under the laws at issue here, citizens are prohibited from engaging, outside their home, in any activities secured by the Second Amendment. … They may not carry defensive weapons outside the home, hunt or engage in firearm related sporting activities. Additionally, although the statutes do not directly regulate the possession of firearms within the home, they effectively prohibit law abiding citizens from purchasing and transporting to their homes firearms and ammunition needed for self-defense. As such, these laws burden conduct protected by the Second Amendment."
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 McDonald decision.
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.
At the time WND columnist John Stossel noted 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."
Among the other cases to have been generated over the issue of gun limits in recent years:
- SAF sued the state of California over a "vague" gun ban over a case in which a man twice was jailed and then cleared. The focal point is the definition of an "assault weapon." The statute's definition of weapons is so "vague and ambiguous," the group contends, that one man was arrested on two different occasions for violations but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. "It's an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute," said Gottlieb, "but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage."
- In New York, the organization has asked for a summary judgment that would strike New York City's $340 triennial fee for just owning a handgun. The legal brief explains that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings "the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense is a part of the 'core' of the Second Amendment's protections." The case, brought by SAF, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and individuals including an electrical contractor, a paramedic, CPA and woodworker, argues, "The city's $340 fee is inherently prohibitive and serves the impermissible purpose of discouraging the exercise of constitutional rights. While the city can charge a nominal fee to defray costs, the $340 fee is not nominal, and has never been calculated to defray costs."
- The organization has sued New Jersey and officials and judges over procedures that allowed them to refuse firearms permits for a kidnap victim, a man who carries large amounts of cash for his business and a civilian FBI employee who fears attacks from radical Islamists. The permissions were denied on the grounds people had not shown a "justifiable need." "Law-abiding New Jersey citizens have been arbitrarily deprived of their ability to defend themselves and their families for years under the state's horribly crafted laws," said a SAF spokesman. "The law grants uncontrolled discretion to police chiefs and other public officials to deny license applications even in cases where the applicant has shown a clear and present danger exists."
- The SAF filed a case on behalf of an honorably discharged veteran from the Vietnam War and names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Jefferson Wayne Schrader. The question is whether the state of Maryland can deprive an individual of the right to possess a weapon over a misdemeanor. Schrader had been convicted of misdemeanor assault relating to a fight involving a man who previously had assaulted him in Annapolis. But he was denied the opportunity to receive a shotgun as a gift or to purchase a handgun for personal protection.
- SAF filed a claim against Maryland for a man who alleged the state was violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit. Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard's permit was renewed in 2005 after the defendant in the case was released from prison. But state officials later refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
- SAF sued Westchester County, N.Y., because officials there were requiring that residents have a "good cause" to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to "keep and bear arms." Individual plaintiffs in the case are Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.