Opinion finding a right to open carry is out of step with American history and tradition and an extreme outlier among federal courts
July 24, 2018 — Today, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision striking down Hawaii’s restrictions on the open carry of firearms in public, finding that the Second Amendment protects a broad right to openly carry weapons. Experts from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence issued the following statements in reaction to the opinion in Young v. Hawaii:
Adam Skaggs, Chief Counsel of Giffords Law Center:
“The panel’s dangerous decision reveals the hypocrisy of so-called ‘originalist’ interpretations of the Second Amendment. In order to find that there is a constitutional right to openly carry firearms, a conclusion no other federal appellate court has reached, the Young panel ignored the weight of historical evidence and Ninth Circuit precedent concluding that strong laws restricting the public carry of firearms are consistent with the Constitution and have been so since the moment America was founded. We hope that the full Ninth Circuit will take up this important issue, reverse the panel’s outlier ruling, and uphold Hawaii’s open carry laws.”
Hannah Shearer, Second Amendment Litigation Director of Giffords Law Center:
“Carrying deadly weapons in public poses unacceptable risks to gun carriers and non-gun carriers alike. The open carry of firearms is particularly dangerous: it diverts law enforcement resources to investigating gun carriers and chills the exercise of First Amendment and other constitutional rights. While the Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturned what it classified as a total ban on the open carry of firearms, it left room for continuing regulations that fall short of a complete ban. We call on our elected leaders to continue their efforts to pass strong, constitutional gun safety laws—overwhelmingly supported by the American public and by gun owners—that protect the public from the dangers of open and concealed carry.”
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court means that in the near future, the U.S. Supreme Court may have the opportunity to rule on the open carry issue presented by Young v. Hawaii. The Court may also take the opportunity to hear other cases involving the public carry of firearms that are pending in the lower courts. For example, a series of NRA-backed lawsuits were filed this spring to challenge strong concealed carry permitting laws in New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. More information on Judge Kavanaugh’s Second Amendment record and the impact it will have on these and other cases can be found in this Giffords memorandum.