Fear & Loading: Hawaii Court Upholds Open Carry

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posted on July 25, 2018
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A decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—based in San Francisco, Calif.—issued Tuesday determined open carry for self-defense is protected by the Second Amendment. “This is a critical issue for law-abiding gun owners who want to exercise their right to self-defense outside the home,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The Second Amendment clearly protects the right to bear arms in public.”

The irony of the defense citing nearly 600-year-old British precedent didn’t escape Justice Diarmmuid F. O’Scannlain, either, who wrote, “… we respectfully decline the County’s and the State’s invitation to import English law wholesale into our Second Amendment jurisprudence.”

“The County and the State, apparently seeing little room to quarrel with American history, argue that the English right to carry weapons openly was limited for centuries by the 1328 Statute of Northampton, and that we should incorporate wholesale that understanding of English rights into our Constitution’s Second Amendment,” the 2-1 decision [PDF]states. “Exploring fourteenth century English law books (after a thorough dusting) reveals that the statute allowed no ordinary Englishman to ‘bring . . . force in affray of the peace, nor to go nor ride armed by night nor by day, in Fairs, Markets, nor in the presence of the Justices or other Ministers, nor in no part elsewhere.’”

The case stemmed from a challenge of Hawaii Revised Statute 134-9 by George K. Young Jr., who had multiple handgun permits denied by authorities because he didn’t qualify as an “exceptional case” for concealed carry and wasn’t working in the security industry. Firearm purchases in Hawaii require permits, and residents are only allowed to have guns at home, at work or during “sojourns.”   

“Thus, we hold that section 134-9’s limitation on the open carry of firearms to those ‘engaged in the protection of, life and property’ violates the core of the Second Amendment and is void,” wrote Justice O’Scannlain.  “… the County may not constitutionally enforce such a limitation on applicants for open carry licenses.”

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