Pursuing another local gun control rule that was undermined by U.S. Supreme Court rulings in recent years that affirmed the right to bear arms, the Second Amendment Foundation has filed a lawsuit against officials in New Mexico.
The case is seeking to remove a state prohibition on the issuance of concealed carry permits to legal resident aliens.
The case was filed on behalf of John W. Jackson, an Australian citizen who came to the U.S. in 2007 with his wife, an American citizen. He obtained permanent resident status in 2008.
"Legal resident aliens in the United States should have the same personal protection rights as anyone, because criminals do not play favorites," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. "Mr. Jackson is a productive member of his community, and his plight is shared by many legal alien residents."
The case, which is being handled by Albuquerque attorney Paul M. Kienzle III and Glen Ellyn, Ill., attorney David Sigale, cites New Mexico Attorney General Gary King and Bill Hubbard of the state Department of Public Safety.
The complaint explains how New Mexico laws prohibit resident legal aliens from the concealed carry of guns for the purpose of self-defense. In the state, only citizens are allowed.
"Our lawsuit is firmly grounded in the recognition and incorporation of the Second Amendment that came with our Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago," Gottlieb said.
"We also believe the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause renders the state's ban on non-citizens obtaining a concealed carry permit to be unconstitutional. Mr. Jackson and others like him only seek to be treated the same as law-abiding citizens. The Second Amendment renders a ban such as that challenged in our action to be impermissible."
The case seeks to prevent the state from enforcing the ban and to obtain a declaration the law is null and void.
SAF also recently won a case in North Carolina, where a state provision that authorized authorities to ban firearms and ammunition outside of homes during a "declared emergency" was removed.
The court ruled the restriction violated the Second Amendment.
WND reported when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a "declared snow emergency."
North Carolina was among the states that allowed such actions. Under its statute 14-288.7, when a municipality declared 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."
"When SAF attorney Alan Gura won the Heller case at the Supreme Court," noted 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."
It was the SAF's precedent-setting Otis McDonald case challenging Chicago's gun restrictions in which 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.
The high court decisions in Heller and McDonald upset the trend toward more gun prohibitions in the U.S. and were forecast to bring on such challenges.
The rulings 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, 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 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.