The Liberal-Leaning Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Right to Self-Defense

Pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court building

Rub your eyes now, because you are not going to believe what you are about to read. Two different panels of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have written opinions that, when taken together, equate to a roadmap for the right to “keep and bear arms” with the right to open or constitutional carry for self-defense.

Brown handled .38 in a light tan Galco holster
This .38 carries well in a Galco holster. The .38 Special is a realistic minimum for concealed carry.

Magazine Bans

Last week, a divided court affirmed a trial court’s injunction blocking the state of California’s confiscation of so-called “large capacity” magazines. The court made two important statements. The first was that the Second Amendment protected ownership of weapons that have a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.” The second key statement to the ruling statted “the ammunition for a weapon is similar to the magazine for a weapon.” That meant the state of California’s ban on magazines over 10 rounds was invalid under protections granted by the Second Amendment.

This new ruling, combined with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment protects weapons in “common use” for “lawful purposes,” clearly prohibits lawmakers from proclaiming firearms such as AR-15s to be assault weapons in an effort to diminish their protection under the constitution.

Constitutional Carry

The second case was decided yesterday. A different panel of judges (in a 2-1 decision) struck down the state of Hawaii’s ban on openly carrying weapons outside the home. While this is an important victory, it is also a shift in the court’s thinking. The Ninth Circuit had previously ruled that the Second Amendment did not “preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.” I am not sure if the court has simply come to a better understanding or the confirmation of Associate Justice Gorsuch and nomination of Kavanagh to the Supreme Court has simply forced them to wave the flag of surrender.

The Ninth Circuit is made of Western states such as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and a few more. Whichever way the court ruled, the decision is likely to be challenged and escalated to the Supreme Court.

The author of the majority opinion, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, used a comprehensive analysis of early-American and post-Civil War gun rights debates (including the racist history of Reconstruction-era carry limitations on black Americans) and concluded that while the Second Amendment may not protect a right to concealed carry, it most definitely protects a right to carry.

The practical effect of the decision, especially combined with other case law, demonstrates that the state has a choice: protect a right to concealed carry, protect a right to open carry, or protect both. But if you block a citizen’s right to carry entirely (or limit the right to a “small and insulated subset of law-abiding citizens”), you violate those citizens’ right to “bear” arms.

How do you think the latest rulings from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will affect gun legislation attempts by lawmakers in other jurisdictions? Share your answer in the comment section.


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Comments (48)

  1. What was not discussed was the fact the attorneys practicing in the state of Hawaii are in bed with the judges. They depend on getting face time in front of a judge who doesn’t want conflict in his/her court. No jury nullification, no waves. It’s a legal system there, no justice.

  2. I have always felt that Americans have a right to carry and possess firearms. Any restriction or denial of that right in violation of the 2nd Amendment. I glad that courts are finally supporting the 2nd Amendment and not their personal agendas.

  3. I will be amazed if it affects lawmakers in the State of New Jersey. One of the most Anti Gunn states in our country.

  4. By the letter of the law, this shouldn’t be surprising. However, it seems the 9th circuit court has failed to acknowledge the letter of the law for some time now. It’s good to see the constitution win for a change, but it appears electoral politics is playing a heavier influence in the decision than good judges acknowledging what our constitution demands.

  5. I think this was a great decision by the 9th circuit court. I also believe that it will be challenged and the Supreme Court will have to hear the case. Hopefully their decision will favor the gun owners and uphold the Second amendment only then will believe that this country’s starting to get back on track as the Founding Fathers intended.

  6. Liberals will not stop passing unconstitutional laws that have previously been struck down. They want to make life as miserable and expensive as possible for gun owners. If the money they waste came out of their pockets instead of the tax payers, they would stop immediately.

  7. Very strange indeed. History can run a straight line for a while before it decides to loop back to the starting point. It is beginning to appear as though 2nd Amendment supporters are facing the dawn of Gun Ownership Heaven! I believe that it will loop back when we no longer have President Trump or someone like him, and then all Hello is going to explode. I know that every nation will or has faced its Waterloo; I just hope ours is still a few hundred years away, and I pray we keep our firearms forever.

  8. Great news, though I first heard of the second case decision three days ago, even though the text (dated today) says decided yesterday.

    A pity that these decisions have taken so long to get here, but (assuming they get through any demands for an en banc hearing and any SCOTUS decision, I look forward to enjoying the last few years of my active life able to freely carry as I wish, whether concealed (my preference) or openly.

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