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On Monday, the U.S. District Court for District of New Mexico ruled that legal immigrants have the same right to obtain a concealed carry permit as citizens. The equal protection clause mandates that those legally residing in the U.S. be treated the same under the law . . .


BELLEVUE, WA – The chief U.S. District Court judge in New Mexico today granted a permanent injunction against the State of New Mexico’s “citizens only” concealed carry law that unfairly discriminated against permanent legal resident aliens in a case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation. Judge M. Christina Armijo held…that there was no evidence showing that granting permits to legal immigrants is more dangerous than granting them to citizens and that the state had provided no support for its contention that its compelling interest in public safety was supported by the law’s citizenship requirement.

The Second Amendment Foundation backed the lawsuit. From the Washington Times:

Alan M. Gottlieb, executive vice president of the foundation, said the discrimination ruling makes it increasingly difficult for gun control advocates to chip away at gun rights. “It helps build case law,” he said. “If legal aliens have rights, citizens obviously do, too.”

There are a number of states that have the qualifier of citizenship in their carry permit laws. It’s likely that all of those qualifiers will soon fall. Equal protection under the law is well established in U.S. jurisprudence.

Another obvious infringement of the right to bear arms is the denial of the right to defend yourself while you are traveling depending on varying state laws. Crossing state lines should not reduce a person’s right to self defense. Residents or legal aliens engaged in interstate travel should not be forced to give up their right to keep and bear arms.

By many estimates, the votes to enact national reciprocity based on the Second Amendment and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution exist in both the Senate and the House. Only the Senate leadership and the President are preventing its passage. One step at a time.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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  1. For the record, that photo is of the Roundhouse, the state legislature in Santy Fe. Not a courts building.

  2. No shock here. Alienage has long been treated by the courts as a “suspect classification,” and legal permanent resident aliens are protected by the Bill of Rights.

    Even the ATF acknowledged that aliens have Second Amendment rights when it changed its position that non-citizenship was a disqualifier. IIRC, that was at the end of 2012.

  3. This is actually an interesting subject.
    Let’s think beyond the gun for a moment. When you come here legally, at which point do you gain all the same rights as the rest of us? How about the right to vote? Well I think that should only be after becoming a full citizen. Even still it does make sense in a lot of ways.
    Those on the path to citizenship should be afforded the same rights and protections as the citizens.

    • People here in the U.S. are already able to enjoy the rest of the Bill of Rights, so it only makes sense that a resident alien also be allowed the Second Amendment.

    • In this narrow case, it’s not just rights, it’s duties. I know that in my home state, and the state wherein I am a member of the “organized militia,” (two different states) the law gives the governor the power to call out the “unorganized militia” which includes all men of military age “present” in the state–not just citizens.

      So . . . in keeping with the Heller decision and the concept of the militia predating the Constitution, this would make sense.

      If you’re visiting from Kerplakistan when the SHTF and the governor calls out the militia, you’d better turn out.

    • You always have the same rights as the rest of us, regardless of were you are. The only thing that remains to discuss is under what circumstances are your rights protected by the Constitution, if you are not a citizen.

      I have always believed that our Constitution, being a statutory profession of the protection of inalienable Human Rights, applies to anyone of any nationality.

      And voting is always tied to constituent residency. Therefore, if you live there, you should be entitled to representation and so be able to vote there.

      • The Bill of Rights are all natural, personal rights protected from Federal government infringement. They apply to everyone here, and are basic human rights people all over the world should have. Humans have the right to speak, defend themselves, their property, and due process in a court of law. Using other countries to violate people’s rights disgusts me.

        By the way, voting is not in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment is. Those just apply to Amercan citizens.

        • Voting is in the body of the Constitution, not in an Amendment. So voting rights are actually more strongly protected than the ones in the first 9 Amendments (the Bill of Rights).

          Not disagreeing with you, B, just clarifying, and expanding upon, that one point you made…

  4. While I know that the antis aren’t stupid enough to try and challenge this ruling, imagine the fallout that would ensue if they tried. Trying to argue against the rights of migrant workers? It’s be magical.

  5. Are we talking about “permanent resident” aliens, or “temporary aliens” I believe once a “permanent” status alien has been given their permanent status, then they should be given the same rights as citizens. After all, they are expected to obey all the laws of the land.

    A temporary alien, although they are also expected to obey the law of the land, by their temporary status, they have shown they are here for maybe work only, or some reason that does not lead to citizenship.

    This could of course be open for debate, as some of the “temporary” status folks might be engaged in work that would normally necessitates the carrying of a weapon.

    • Permanent. Nonpermanent “visa” aliens don’t get 2A rights. If they did, every tourist and foreign student would be packing.

      • Yeah, and some (notably Japanese) would often be packing in Roy Rogers 2-gun rigs with chromed single action revolvers, lotsa silver on the leather.

      • I live in a state that required US citizenship to get a concealed carry permit, I was born in another country and came to the US on a visa. It took 9 years to get the green card (permanent residence). I chose a Utah concealed carry permit as they didn’t require that the holder (at that time) be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card) and UT has reciprocity with the state in which I live. I carried on that UT permit for 10 years before gaining US citizenship last year, I now hold a carry permit from the state in which I live and have kept up the UT permit. On a side note All NFA items are able to be legally purchased by non US citizens that live/reside in the US on a visa or green card. getting a green card to no easy task and takes a long time if one does it via work sponsorship and not family.

      • Two to three years ago SLED here in SC issued a CWP to a Chinese medical student here on a student and research visa.

    • While I appreciate the attempt at irony, the rules inside military bases apply to soldiers and civilians alike, and the rules outside military bases apply to soldiers and civilians alike.

      Nice try, though.

  6. Can’t really see a problem with this. As long as all laws are obeyed. After all…. our rights, including the right to self defense, are INALIENABLE. It seems wrong to say that an ALIEN can’t have the same rights.

    • Sort of like the US pushing for the Women in Saudia Arabia to have the RIGHT to drive, While we are subjected to it being a privilege.

  7. It’s not about be given rights because they pay taxes or obey the laws. Non-resident aliens are also expected to do both.
    The difference is that the resident alien has stated his or her desire to make this country its home – hence, it has developed “substantial ties with the community”. That is one of the arguments used time and again there has been a discussion about if the amendments also apply to resident aliens. By their own volition, they’ve decided to become part of “the people”. Non-resident aliens have NOT expressed such desire – hence, I would not agree with non-resident aliens being allowed the exercise of the 2nd amendment.

    I should know – I’ve resided in the USA for ten years now – first as a non-resident alien, then as a resident alien.

    And from that position, I would agree that the amendments (including the second amendment and equal protection) apply to resident aliens.

    However, I also believe some rights should be reserved to be exercised only by citizens – either natural born or naturalized. And that would include the right to vote.

    After all, permanent residents can apply for citizenship if so they want (after three or five years of being a resident, earlier than that if joining the armed forces). That is the true difference, IMHO, between those that have decided to make this their home (permanent residents) vs those that have decided they want to make this their country (those that apply for citizenship).

    And again IMHO, the very true measure would be the answer to the question if they would be willing to take arms to defend the country. Which becomes one of the obligations when you become a citizen. Even more, if you were willing to take arms against your former country. While probably a highly theoretical question, that would be the true measure of those that believe this is their country – if not by birth, by choice.

  8. * Ruling not not valid in New York City, Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Washington D.C. ,Hawaii, or Maryland.

    • In MD, children of illegal immigrants get in state tuition. While those who legally live in the country, their children have to pay out of state tuition. MD is just frakked all around. Glad I live in PA…for now.

    • So I should have to lock up my guns away from my wife everytime I leave the house because she would be prohibited person in your america? Get real bro

        • You are mistaken, your spouse is a resident alien for at least 3 years. It then costs $1000+ to apply for citizenship. Also that 3 year ticker does not start until your paperwork is approved and you are interviewed (again another $1200-$3000 later).

          Most people’s knowledge of immigration law is from the movies, just like with guns.

      • Kaplan,

        If gun ownership was subject to the same fees and background checks as immigration status is then half of the people on this website would be prohibited from owning a gun. But as you said, most are ignorant about immigration laws.

    • By that logic, then gun ownership is a privilege. And since you think that only “citizens” are good enough, then I would have to say, only law enforcement and government workers are qualified to have a gun. So I can keep and carry mine but yours should be confiscated.

    • Shawn,

      It took me 14 years and 20K to become a US citizen the legal way, so I have to respectfully disagree.

  9. This is good news to me I live in North Carolina and currently a non-citizen cannot get a concealed handgun
    license. Anyone can open carry thou. My wife, who is a resident alien, may be able to get a concealed handgun license in the future. She is not comfortable open carrying.

  10. I don’t see why this would even be a question. Of course “full” right don’t exist in many states…

    • At first glance, I would’ve agreed with you. But, AFAIK, the case dealt with a privilege (which is today erroneously called a right) so that might be something the court needed to decide. They were deciding who gets government permission slips and not deciding who actually possessed a right.

      However, in the spirit of how I believe you made the comment, I agree. Unalienable rights are sort of a no-brainer for the courts. They are by nature of existing and not conferred by any government.

  11. Daniel Silverman,

    You’re asking about the difference between what the founders called natural rights and civil rights.

    We are born with the right to bear arms, regardless of political boundaries. Civil rights, like the right to vote, come from our membership in a community. It wouldn’t make sense to speak of a right to vote, for a person stranded on a desert island, or for a Pakistani national spending the weekend at Vail. But both the islander and the Pakistani have rights to self-defense, to be secure in their property, etc.

    This also helps us understand why being legally required to show ID to buy a gun is injurious to our liberties, but requiring ID to vote just makes sense. Why should we let you vote in our election, if we don’t whether you have a right to?

  12. but, but, what if the legal immigrant is a convicted felon in their originating county? What if said immigrant was caught sass mouthing a fascist dictator and was convicted in a kangaroo court? They’re still felons…we’re all in danger.

  13. Of course they have 2A rights. They have all rights we as Americans are also intended to have. Every living, breathing human being has these rights on this planet. It’s only governments that encroach on the rights of all people in our world.

  14. When you purchase a firearm at a retailer, you have to fill out a Federal Form (I forgot the number). If I recall correctly, two of the questions as you: 1) if you are a citizen of the United States and 2) Have you renounced your citizenship?
    Now I ask you what is the difference between a Resident Alien and a person who has renounced their citizenship yet still living in the States?
    Renouncing your citizenship is not an uncommon thing and is not irreversible.
    People who have renounced their citizenship are called “Expatriates”. After WWI many veterans weary of returning home decided to stay in the land they fought rather than go back home.
    But some of them did come back and they were called “Repatriates.
    yes, the law does allow former citizens to resume their citizenship status.

    Related, if you do renounce your citizenship, do you have to forfeit your firearms?
    If an Expatriate has to give up their firearms, why does a Resident Alien get to
    Keep and Bear Arms?

    • If you renounce your citizenship, you renounce your allegiance. So goodbye to you.

      If you are a legal permanent resident alien, you are announcing your allegiance. So hello to you.

      Got it?

      • Well Ralph you may have “feelings” about the matter, but your feelings are irrelevant.
        What I am talking about is the law. The law says that a US Citizen can renounce their citizenship, and yes their allegiance. But the LAW also says that even if a person renounces their citizenship (for no light reason) can turn around at a later date and REGAIN their citizenship.
        It’s not that big of a deal.
        Their is no disgrace or dishonor in renouncing your citizenship.
        People are doing it everyday to go work or retire in a foreign country so they don’t have to pay taxes, etc.
        You may have an opinion about it, but you opinion or my opinion don’t mount to hill of beans to what the LAW says.

  15. I see this as a two edged sword. If we allow an alien full coverage
    under the constitution then how could any of us make a claim
    that non-citizens (read alien, permanent resident or otherwise)
    shouldn’t vote. I see this ruling as being used to help make a
    case for total amnesty: “If aliens can buy guns, why can’t we
    do this or that.”

    Also consider what this ruling may mean if amnesty is passed.
    Every thug, rapist, cartel member etc.. . who has been deported
    but snuck over again WITHOUT any checks could then use this
    ruling as precedent for why they should be allowed legal access
    to firearms.

    • Federal law requires citizenship for voting in Federal elections. States can set their ow rules for state and local elections. So the question is, do citizens of California want citizens of Mexico electing their next governor?

  16. Some of the people commenting above just don’t get it. It really is this simple:

    The Declaration Of Independence (one of our founding documents) says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That ALL MEN are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these [rights] are LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    ALL MEN (and women [per the Equal Rights Amendment]) includes people from all parts of the world. Aliens (legal and illegal) are still people. And the right to LIFE includes self-defense against criminals and tyrannical government. The 2nd Amendment says, “the right of THE PEOPLE [not just citizens] to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    All of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are HUMAN rights (for “the people”), not CITIZEN rights.

    • Voting is a CITIZEN’s right and the portions of the Constitution that address voting make that very clear. The Constitution clearly defines the requirements for determining/defining citizenship. Aliens (legal or illegal) do not meet the requirements.

      All the other rights addressed in the Constitution are clearly HUMAN rights, and the Constitution does not link them with citizenship in any way or form.

  17. WOW how things have changed! It appears the US CONSTUTION does not mean anything these days. It appears we are governed by the UN now?

  18. CT changed the law to allow Permanent Resident Aliens to obtain Concealed carry permits about 20 years ago. I had one before I became a citizen. North Carolina allows Non citizens to own handguns, but not carry them.
    You do not need to be a citizen to serve in the military.
    I believe that if you own property and pay taxes you should be able to vote, in local election at least.

  19. All humans in this world have rights. Many however, have had their rights trampled and battered. But the rights are still there. They must simply retrieve them from the trash heap, dust them off, and exercise them a bit. Those rights will be looking good as new in a few short weeks.

  20. As a gun-owning permanent resident myself who has converted two actual voting US citizens, this is a step in the right direction. Good on them.

  21. My wife, who has merely a green card, just applied for her CPL here in Washington. I anticiapate that it should arrive in the mail in a few weeks.

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