Right To Carry Litigation – Get Involved
By Joe DeBergalis (DirectAction)
Honeoye Falls, NY –(Ammoland.com)- Gun owners have had much to celebrate over the last several years.
The Heller and McDonald decisions confirmed what gun owners had long known to be true regarding the Second Amendment; the number of “shall issue” Right-to-Carry states has grown to 37; the number of permit-less carry states now stands at four (with Wisconsin pending) and federal Right-to-Carry reciprocity legislation has gained momentum.
With all of this success it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are still portions of this country where politicians continue to deny their citizens the means of self-defense outside the home, whether through discriminatory licensing procedures or outright carry bans. When lawmakers in these jurisdictions refuse to respect the natural right to self-defense through the legislative process, the NRA is taking the offenders to court.
Such is the case in Illinois, where politicians surrounding the gun control hotbed of Chicago have denied the rights of all the state’s citizens, making Illinois the only remaining state that bans all manner of concealed carry. In response, the NRA and the Illinois State Rifle Association have filed suit against Illinois in the case of Shepard v. Madigan.
The plaintiff, Mary Shepard, is a church treasurer living and working in Illinois. Despite complying with Illinois' onerous firearm owner's identification card requirement, obtaining Right-to-Carry permits from Florida and Pennsylvania, and acquiring five firearms training certifications, Illinois law offers her no way to legally carry a handgun for her own protection.
The experiences of 40 Right-to-Carry states have proven Illinois' policy misguided, but Shepard's personal experience is downright outrageous. On September 28, 2009, while attending to her duties at the church along with an 83-year-old co-worker, a defenseless Shepard was viciously beaten within an inch of her life by a six-foot-three-inch 245-pound convicted criminal. The NRA/ISRA brief lists her injuries as including “skull fractures, fractures to both cheeks, brain swelling, shattered teeth, a concussion, a loss of hearing, injuries to the vertebrae in her neck requiring surgical implants, torn rotator cuffs in her shoulders, [and] an injured clavicle.” Shepard's co-worker suffered a similar fate.
Illinois denied Shepard her right to self-defense, but in doing so created a compelling figure whose experience will hopefully serve to convince the courts that Illinois’ ban on self-defense outside the home is unjust and unlawful.
Nearly as insidious as Illinois' ban on concealed carry is the way in which some jurisdictions pick and choose which law-abiding citizens are worthy of exercising the right to self-defense. Over the years California localities have made this type of discrimination an art form, with the San Diego Sheriff's Office attracting the attention of the NRA and California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation in the case of Peruta v. County of San Diego. The case is currently making its way through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of San Diego County's restrictive policy.
Under California law a locality can issue a permit if the applicant shows “good cause.” The NRA and CRPAF have argued that in light of the Heller decision, self-defense is a “good cause.” The County of San Diego's interpretation of “good cause” to require a “special need” or “specific threat” flies in the face of Heller and only serves as a means to discourage the lawful carry of firearms in San Diego County.
The U.S. District Court opinion stated that the County of San Diego's requirement that an applicant detail a “specific threat” or “special need” in order to obtain a permit is not an unlawful restriction on the right to bear arms. Why? With reasoning that would surely puzzle any proponent of “condition one” carry, the court held that concealed carry can be restricted because California allows for the open carry of unloaded handguns, and the “armed” citizen can supposedly draw and load his pistol while under attack! While a bill restricting even this level of carry (currently making its way through the California Assembly) should be fought as a restriction on the right to bear arms, “empty carry” is obviously far from ideal. The Ninth Circuit should reject this bad alternative, overturn the lower court ruling and recognize self-defense as a “good cause.”
It should amaze any reasonable person that despite the experiences of the vast majority of the country that operates under a “shall issue” or permit less carry system. With a 47-year-low in the murder rate, 37-year low in violent crime and the outstanding scholarship of John Lott, there are still those who insist on restricting the right of law abiding citizens to carry firearms for protection. While these forces have been entrenched for decades, the rapid growth of the Right-to-Carry movement proves that their days are numbered. The NRA and its local affiliates will be ready to act wherever democracy has failed… by using the judiciary just as the framers of the constitution intended, to protect the rights of the individual against the state.
As a Life Member of the Illinois State Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association, I am very proud of the efforts of these hardworking organizations. I wholeheartedly encourage all [AmmoLand readers] to join their various NRA state affiliates. They are the NRA in your state and to a one, do a fantastic job.
I would also like to thank all of you that have contributed to these causes through your advocacy by calling, writing, emailing and visiting your respective elected officials and respectfully making your views on these issues known. Together we are making a difference.
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