The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sometimes called the Ninth Circus Court, is widely known for being one of the most left-leaning courts in the United States. That only makes sense, given that the court covers the west coast states of Oregon, California, and Washington, as well as extremely left-leaning Hawaii.
The court has long been especially unfriendly to the right to keep and bear arms, as enumerated in the United States constitution. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit has upheld a number of ridiculous legal decisions concerning bans and arbitrary regulations on firearms. That makes it all the more strange that on Tuesday, a three-judge panel from the court ruled that yes, the Second Amendment does protect a right to openly carry a firearm in public for self-defense purposes.
This has interesting implications for the court, and is a stunning ruling from an extremely leftist court.
The Ninth Circuit Court handed down this ruling in reference to a claim from the state of Hawaii, another state with a horrible record on the Second Amendment, which suggested that citizens did not have a right to carry arms for self-defense.
The state of Hawaii basically claimed that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms only applied within the home, and did not bestow upon citizens a right to carry a firearm anywhere.
In the ruling, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain said that the court did not take firearm violence lightly. However, he pointed out that, “for better or for worse,” the right to keep and bear arms does include the right to bear them, openly, in public.
However, the court’s ruling was narrow, and it did not attempt to challenge the state’s idea that the Second Amendment does not provide the right to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Hawaii.
It’s nice to see the Ninth Court stand up for the right to keep and bear arms, and a strange change of pace.
However, more interesting still is that the ruling handed down earlier today flies in the face of an earlier decision the court handed down.
A few years ago, the Ninth Circuit ruled, en banc, that the U.S. constitution does not protect concealed carry. However, that ruling left open to interpretation the possibility that it did, in fact, protect the right to open carry.
Today, a three-judge panel of the court ruled that the constitution does protect open carry.
This means that today’s ruling stands in opposition to the ruling from a few years ago, and that the two must either be reconciled, or the United States Supreme Court will have to decide which is the proper ruling (if either of them are).
There are a few things that this could force the court to do.
The first, and likely what all the pro-Second Amendment organizations in the area are hoping for, is that it will force the Ninth Court to meet again, en banc, and to decide which is right.
If the court decides that today’s ruling was correct in its assertion that open carry must be allowed, then that would mean that the court would have to strike down open carry bans in the states of Hawaii and California.
On the other hand, the court could also decide that the Second Amendment demands that either open or concealed carry must be allowed in a jurisdiction in order to satisfy the right to keep and, most importantly, bear arms, which is what the state of Hawaii attempted to argue.
That would leave states like Hawaii and California, which both operate on a ‘may-issue’ basis for concealed carry permits, able to effective ban their citizens from carrying firearms.
Technically speaking, Both states do, in fact, ‘provide’ concealed carry permits to residents who meet the usual criteria.
Realistically, however, the states don’t give out such permits, even to people who would otherwise qualify. The local sheriff, who has the last say in most cases, simply won’t issue to people within their county, except for the rich and the ‘properly connected.’
Still, this legal argument could be interesting, and if it ends up in front of SCOTUS, perhaps even one with Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, it seems almost certain that the constitution, and those who love and defend it, would be likely to score a victory.