Fight looms over right to carry gun

Com­pet­ing rul­ings by ap­pel­late courts set stage for bat­tle.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Mark Sherman

WASHINGTON — The next big is­sue in the na­tional de­bate over guns — whether peo­ple have a right to be armed in pub­lic — is mov­ing closer to Supreme Court re­view.

A provoca­tive rul­ing by a panel of fed­eral ap­peals court judges in Chicago struck down the only statewide ban on car­ry­ing con­cealed weapons, in Illi­nois. The rul­ing is some­what at odds with those of other fed­eral courts that have largely up­held state and lo­cal gun laws, in­clud­ing re­stric­tions on con­cealed weapons, since the Supreme Court’s land­mark rul­ing declar­ing that peo­ple have a right to have a gun for self­de­fense.

In 2008, the court voted 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller to strike down Washington’s ban on hand­gun own­er­ship and fo­cused on the right to de­fend one’s home. The court left for an­other day how broadly the Sec­ond Amend­ment may pro­tect gun rights in other set­tings.

Le­gal schol­ars say com­pet­ing ap­pel­late rul­ings mean that day is draw­ing near for a new high court case on gun rights.

The ap­peals court rul­ing in Chicago came early in a week that ended with the mass shoot­ing in Con­necti­cut that left 28 peo­ple dead, in­clud­ing 20 chil­dren at an ele­men­tary school and the pre­sumed gun­man.

Roughly 40 states make it easy for peo­ple to carry a gun in pub­lic. But in Cal­i­for­nia, New York and a few other states, lo­cal and state reg­u­la­tions make it dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble to get a li­cense to carry a weapon. Illi­nois and the District of Columbia had been the only places to refuse to al­low peo­ple to be armed in pub­lic.

Gun rights ad­vo­cates and gun con­trol sup­port­ers are as split over the is­sue of hav­ing guns in pub­lic as they were over whether the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­tected gun own­er­ship at all — and along the same lines.

Jonathan Lowy, an at­tor­ney with the Brady Cen­ter to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence, said: “If law en­force­ment makes a de­ter­mi­na­tion that some­body would in­crease the dan­ger to the pub­lic by car­ry­ing a loaded gun on the streets, then that per­son should not be car­ry­ing a loaded gun. Some peo­ple in the gun lobby want to tie the hands of law en­force­ment.”

But Wayne LaPierre, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “Clearly, the in­di­vid­ual right un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion does not ap­ply only to your home. Peo­ple have lives out­side their home and the con­sti­tu­tional right ap­plies out­side their home.”

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