US appeals court upholds right to carry gun in public for self-defence

Kimberley Richards
Americans debate contested open carry laws: AP
Americans debate contested open carry laws: AP

A US appeals court has ruled that the US Constitution’s Second Amendment provides the right to openly carry a gun in public for self-defence.

The 2-1 decision, on the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed a lower court decision for a case involving a plaintiff, George Young, who was twice denied a permit to carry a gun.

Mr Young applied for a license to carry a handgun either concealed or openly in 2011, the ruling stated, and was denied by County of Hawaii’s Chief of Police on two occasions for failure to satisfy the state’s licensing requirements.

The plaintiff sued the state of Hawaii and state officials in 2012 alleging his denied applications violated his Second Amendment rights to carry a loaded firearm in public for self-defence.

According to the decision, the district court dismissed Mr Young’s appeal to the state of Hawaii as set forth in Hawaii’s statutes that generally require gun owners, with exceptions, to keep their firearms at their “place of business, residence, or sojourn”.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, who wrote the opinion, said the panel does not take gun violence “lightly”.

“We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence,” Mr O’Scannlain wrote. He added: “But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defence.”

Judge Richard Clifton dissented the ruling, noting the importance of the US Supreme Court revisiting the limits surrounding the Second Amendment.

In 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled in, District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Second Amendment protected an individual's right to possess a firearm for self-defence at home.

“I assume that the Supreme Court will find it appropriate at some point to revisit the reach of the Second Amendment and to speak more precisely to the limits on the authority of state and local governments to impose restrictions on carrying guns in public,” Mr Clifton wrote.

“In the meantime, this court and our counterparts elsewhere will do the best we can to sort out the conflicting arguments. I respect the opinion of the majority, but my conclusion is different.”