Dec 16, 2010
Washington, D.C. — The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence today filed a brief in federal court in North Carolina urging the court to dismiss a lawsuit seeking a right to take up arms in streets and other public spaces during riots or other emergencies. The lawsuit challenges a longstanding North Carolina law that allows gun carrying on a person’s property but temporarily bars public gun carrying in the vicinity of a riot and during states of emergency.
“The Second Amendment does not grant a right of vigilantes to take up arms on our streets during a riot or state of emergency,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Police and emergency responders seeking to quell a riot or deliver aid during an emergency should not be forced to contend with legally-authorized armed individuals and groups roaming alleys and public streets.”
The Brady Center’s brief argues that there is no right of armed vigilantes to take to the streets during riots or congregate in the vicinity of emergency responders trying to secure a downtown during riots, looting, or terrorist attacks. The prospect of police and emergency responders being powerless to stop bands of armed citizens from taking to the streets during emergencies, looting, or rioting poses a serious threat to the government’s ability to maintain public order and deliver emergency services. If the lawsuit were successful, law enforcement would be unable to detect whether roaming armed individuals or gangs were would-be looters, terrorists, or vigilantes, thus jeopardizing their safety and their ability to respond to states of emergency.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the Second Amendment grants a right to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, but emphasized that this right “is not unlimited” and is subject to “reasonable firearms regulations.” The Supreme Court has held that bans on carrying concealed weapons do not violate the Second Amendment and courts have given the government broad authority to restore order during riots and emergencies.
The lawsuit, Bateman v. Purdue, was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Brady Center’s brief was joined by North Carolina Million Mom March Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Religious Coalition For a Nonviolent Durham. The brief was filed by attorneys with the Brady Center and the firm Hogan Lovells US LLP, along with Drew Erteschik of the Raleigh, N.C. firm Poyner Spruill LLP.
As the nation’s largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.