March 26, 2021

This week an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a 7-4 decision holding that states may regulate and restrict the public carry of firearms. This decision reversed a prior holding of the same court that had struck down as unconstitutional a Hawaii County statute that effectively limited the issuance of carry permits to security guards only. In July of 2018, a divided three judge panel had ruled that carrying a firearm in public was protected by the Second Amendment and the state of Hawaii could not deny permits to all private citizens who were not security guards.
U.S. Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, writing for the majority, held “There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment.” Allegedly drawing on over 700 years of American and English law, the majority concluded that “we have never assumed that individuals have an unfettered right to carry weapons in public spaces….Indeed, we can find no general right to carry arms into the public square for self-defense.” Writing for the dissent, Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a Ronald Reagan appointee, countered the majority’s holding by citing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columba v. Heller, which overturned Washington D.C.’s handgun ban. O’Scannlain wrote, “The Second Amendment’s text, history, and structure, and the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Heller, all point squarely to the same conclusion: Armed self-defense in public is at the very core of the Second Amendment right.”
This Decision will allow state and local governments within the 9th Circuit to pass laws and continue to enforce existing laws that limit open and concealed carry. By issuing this Decision, the 9th Circuit has joined the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circuits which have upheld similar laws and regulations limiting public carry of firearms. The D.C. and 7th Circuits have struck down state laws that banned pubic carry. As such, this issue will likely come before the United States Supreme Court in the near future.
Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor these developments. If you have any questions concerning the Ninth Circuit’s decision, or the defense of firearms or ammunition claims, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.