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Courts Change US Self-Defense Laws

April 6, 2012

Firearms law in the US changes by the week.  In Washington D.C, Columbia v. Heller, 2008, ruled that the second amendment applies to the residents of the District of Columbia.  The city can not prohibit residents from owning arms for self defense in the home.  Some restrictions are allowed, but the court did not specify their extent.

McDonald v. Chicago, 2010, found that the right to keep and bear arms is incorporated into the US Constitution and applies to the states.  Chicago can not prohibit city residents from owning handguns in their home for self defense.

The laws controlling CCW permits are changing too.  At least one federal judge thinks the state has to issue permits if it can.  Judge Benson E. Legg of the Maryland district court ruled in Woolard v. Sheridan, 2012, that “A citizen may not be required to offer a good and substantial reason why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right‘s existence is all the reason he needs.”  Judge Legg held that strict scrutiny applies to these rights so the government must narrowly tailor its concerns for safety while maintaining a citizen’s right to self-defense by bearing arms.  The state will appeal, but Maryland went from won’t issue to must issue in one judicial decision.

Federal Judge Howard ruled against North Carolina’s emergency powers law.  State law prohibited people from carrying or transporting arms if the state issued a state of emergency.  Judge Howard in Bateman v. Purdue, 2012, said “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.”  The state issues these emergency degrees when they forecast snow or a hurricane.  In short, you couldn’t have arms when you most needed them.  Well, you can now.

There are contradictory decisions between jurisdictions.  For example, the federal district court in Illinois held that intermediate scrutiny applies and that the state may categorically deny a citizen’s right to bear arms outside the home.  These court cases will need to be decided at a higher level to eliminate the contradictions.

An Obama court would eliminate those rights for all of us.


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