March 25, 2021
In an unjust decision that runs counter to both the precedent-setting Heller and McDonald rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to carry a firearm in public—either openly or concealed.
In the case, George Young Jr. v Hawaii, an en banc panel of the notoriously liberal court said in the majority opinion, “There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment.” The court further ruled, “We can find no general right to carry arms into the public square for self-defense.”
The case involved a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s may-issue carry permit law that requires an applicant to prove “urgency or need” to qualify. But, rather than address that directly, the court apparently decided to take on all concealed and open carry of firearms.
Especially problematic was the majority’s argument that the Second Amendment only applies to the “defense of home and hearth,” something certainly not mentioned anywhere in the text of the amendment. Therefore, the court said, “The power of the government to regulate carrying arms in the public square does not infringe in any way on the right of an individual to defend his home or business.”
Of course, the 9th Circuit ruling runs afoul of two very important U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the past. The 2008 decision in District of Columbia vs Heller ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. The 2010 case McDonald v. Chicago built on Heller and ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans to carry firearms for self-defense outside of the home.
In a Twitter announcement just after the decision was rendered, the National Rifle Association said the bad ruling could have wide-ranging effects.
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit just ruled that THERE IS NO RIGHT TO CARRY—either openly or concealed in public,” the NRA tweeted. “This ruling impacts RTC laws in AK, HI, CA, AZ, OR, WA, & MT. This was not an NRA case but we are exploring all options to rectify this.”
Of course, the next step for the case would be the Supreme Court, if the justices choose to hear it. They’ve been reluctant to take Second Amendment cases of late, but one would hope since this decision runs directly counter to the McDonald ruling that they would gladly consider it.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.