San Diego, CA –-(Ammoland.com)- The gun ban lobby, along with many courts around the country, have thumbed their noses at the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions (Heller and McDonald), which declared that the Second Amendment protects from local, state, or federal infringement a fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms, especially for self-defense.
Lawyers for the gun ban lobby and anti-gun government actors have argued to limit the High Court’s decisions by reading them as only protecting the right to keep and bear arms within the home.
Sadly, this disingenuous reading of those decisions has been adopted by some states, municipalities, and courts that are largely hostile to the Supreme Court’s rulings, and to the Second Amendment, in general. In some cases, the argument has served as the legal justification for laws that entirely prohibit individuals from carrying firearms in public.
One of the states that was choosing to narrowly read McDonald and Heller to limit the Second Amendment’s protections to inside the home was Illinois. Illinois state courts continued to allow prosecutions under an Illinois statute that criminalized any public carrying of a firearm (open or concealed), even after that statute was held unconstitutional by the Seventh Circuit in Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012). Those state courts expressly rejected Moore, insisting Second Amendment rights are homebound and do not extend to the public, and that they, as state courts, were not bound by the federal court decision.
Fortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court, corrected those courts last week with its decision in People v. Aguilar, holding:
“Neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the Second Amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary, both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home.”
With this foundational understanding the court then held that, because the Illinois statute “categorically prohibits the possession and use of an operable firearm for self-defense outside the home,” it violates the Second Amendment. The Aguilar court felt the statute was so egregious that it obviated the need for further analysis. In other words, the court thought the statute plainly unconstitutional, period. The criminal charges against Mr. Aguilar were dismissed.
The Aguilar decision brings some common sense reasoning to the text, history and purpose of the Second Amendment. The case also adds to the noticeable divided approaches being adopted by state and federal courts over the scope of the right to “bear” arms.
This judicial divide increases the chances that the Supreme Court will take a case on this issue to set the record straight. Among the potential candidates for Supreme Court review is an NRA-supported case currently before the Ninth Circuit Peruta v. Sheriff William Gore, which has been submitted since last December and is currently awaiting a decision. Attorneys in that case submitted a letter to the Ninth Circuit explaining why the Aguilar decision is helpful in deciding Peruta, in hopes that the court will follow suit and take the opportunity to side with individual liberty. A similar letter was also filed with the judicial panel assigned to the McKay case, a similar case to Peruta, and another candidate for Supreme Court review, which is scheduled to be argued before the Ninth Circuit in October.
This decision provides a well-reasoned foundation which other courts should consider when confronted with this issue. The decision vindicates individual civil rights, which is always a cause for celebration.
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