Supreme Court protest demonstration
Courtesy Kevin Hulbert
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By Rob Morse

The case currently before the Supreme Court — New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen — hinges on the fact that government officials in New York state can choose whether or not to give ordinary citizens a license to carry a concealed firearm in public. About one out of twelve of us carry in public now. That isn’t true in New York state where ordinary people are denied the right to carry personal firearms in public.

Also consider the fact that New York has arrested people who tried to pass through the state with a firearm. Now the case in front of the US Supreme Court takes on a different character.

We’ve seen similar cases before, people who were driving up the east coast of the United States. They drove through Washington D.C. where they were pulled over for an ordinary traffic stop and shaken down for a traffic fine. They were also carrying a firearm at the time and were arrested for carrying an unregistered firearm in the District of Columbia.

Until 2018, Washington, D.C. didn’t issue permits so ordinary people could carry and transport their firearms in public. So someone arrested while driving through would pay fines, pay court fees, and pay lawyer’s fees, and have a criminal conviction on their record.

At that time, the district didn’t even have a carry permit process. It was impossible for us to register, to carry, and then to legally transport a firearm through the district. Later, the district’s permit laws were ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the district must issue permits so that ordinary people could carry ordinary firearms in ordinary places. That’s progress, but it gets better.

Later, a judge ruled that the district could require a permit, but the district could not prosecute someone who didn’t have a permit that was impossible for them to get. Individuals who were prosecuted in DC for the non-violent possessory offense of having a gun as they passed through DC asked to be reimbursed and to have their records cleared. A judge ruled that the city owes them their attorney’s fees and to expunge their record of a criminal conviction.

An individual should not be punished for noncompliance with an unconstitutional law. If they were unjustly punished, then they deserve restitution. So far, only a few people have applied for restitution in DC. There is a larger class action lawsuit that needs to be filed against the district.

Though that’s all good, it’s a trifle compared to what has happened in New York. New York City routinely stopped and frisked ordinary people on the street. The state and the city prosecuted travelers who brought firearms with them as they traveled through New York. They prosecuted businessmen who had a decorative knife on their keychain, and they prosecuted Boy Scout troops who carried a Scout knife in their pockets. It prosecuted travelers who arrived at an airport with legal firearms locked in their luggage.

The number of victims is in the tens-of-thousands, if not more. But . . .

Are we safer now that Boy Scouts are disarmed?
Is it moral to demand that people have a license to carry a “weapon” in public,
a license that the state frequently won’t issue to them?

That isn’t the way the current New York case in front of the US Supreme Court is framed. That case was filed by ordinary people in upstate New York who were arbitrarily denied carry permits. The plaintiffs were unlucky enough to draw an official who doesn’t issue permits, while others hearing similar cases in different jurisdictions issue them. The details in how the Supreme Court rules in the New York case will matter to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people.

I hope that laws like New York’s are declared unconstitutional. If state governments owe restitution for prosecution of unconstitutional laws, then they will owe more than an apology. They will also owe the victims of these unconstitutional laws a lot of cash.

I hope the Supreme Court issues a broad ruling. Carrying a pocketknife shouldn’t land you in jail. Making an inadvertent stop at a New York city airport in New York shouldn’t land you in jail either. I hope the Supreme Court rules that states like New York can no longer write and enforce such arbitrary laws, giving bureaucrats a say in who can and can’t exercise their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. And I hope all of those people who were abused by the state will finally get their day in court.

 

This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission. 

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36 COMMENTS

  1. What is a civil right? If a judge or DA denied a black man the right to vote just because he was black it would be a clear, and criminal, violation of his civil rights. People involved in this criminal conspiracy to deny rights should be tried and sent to prison.

    The BOR says what our rights are. One of these civil rights is the right to keep and bear arms. Period. Any denial of that right is a use of power, to illegally deny a citizen of his or her rights. The people doing so should go to prison.

    • All too common a misunderstanding of the documents.

      Actually, the Bill of Rights spells out what the government cannot do to limit our rights. Nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights are we granted the right to keep and bear arms. It is considered a natural, or God given right, and the Second Amendment simply mandates that the government shall not infringe on it.

        • “Let me know when God steps up for our rights.”

          Think you missed the point, a bit.

          @”O me of little faith” was pointing out that the constitution does, indeed cannot, confer/grant “God-given”, natural, civil and human rights. Nothing was said about defending against transgression of those rights.

        • Not His job. HE gave them to us, and it is our job to retain them. Part of that is for us to be proactive and select government officials who will NOT try and take/deny those right s to us. We have the government WE have chosen. It is OUR job to choose wisely and to take whatever steps are necessary to protect and preserve that God has given us. For ourselves, and for others round about ut.

      • The BOR says what our rights are.

        this is what he said. The BOR simply details what SOME of our rights are, then COMMANDS gummit to not only keep their hands off but to PROTECT those rights for us.

        • Moreover, Amendment IX says that – this was a particular concern for the Anti-Federalists – the fact that a right is not spelled out, or even mentioned in the Constitution, does not mean that it does not exist. The “right to privacy”, for instance, is one of the more (in)famous “penumbra” and “emanations” shining on Federal law.

  2. Riddle me this…

    As many of you have read from me recently, I’m still waiting on any word from the LASD regarding my CCW application. Per their own department’s policy (which I believe is statewide policy at the CADOJ level), an application must be contacted with a decision one way or the other within 90 days of application. They were happy to cash my application fee check within three days of submission back in July, but I haven’t heard a word. Other applicants I personally know who applied well before I did haven’t heard any follow-up, either.

    So, then, since our money was taken and the Department violated their own policy by delaying the contracted service (processing the application to completion) beyond the allowed timeline, would I be penalized for carrying today, a full five months later, when under the promised timeline I would have had the permit in my possession now?

    • Haz,

      You need to organize a flash mob, storm the LASD, and grab your CCW permit.

      Just sayin’.
      Seems like that’s how things get done, nowadays.

      /smirk

      Really, I hope the LASD comes through for you, soon.

    • LifeSavor has a pretty good point. It’s either that—or get a Utah non-resident permit labeled just McLovin. That ought to do it.

    • Sounds like we applied for our permits around the same time and also sounds like a generic upstate county near Albany is both a bit faster as well as communicates better than your area of California (sorry man that sucks). As to carrying without the permit we both know what would happen if you were caught and that it is wrong that you are having rights delayed/denied. If you have the time money and tolerance you could try a similar lawsuit or wait and see what shakes out with NY. Up end at least you can own magazines that hold more than 10 in any form and do not have a pistol registry/permit just to own a pistol.

    • Just remember, California won’t let you carry without your CCW permit on you while carrying. So, even if it was approved, sent to you and sitting in your car while you ran in to by some groceries while carrying, you would still be in violation of the law and arrested.

      • Maybe, maybe not. You’re also supposed to have your driver license on you at all times while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, but if you have a valid license and forgot it (in the gym bag, in your other pants that are in the hamper at home, on your dresser, et al), and the traffic officer looks you up in the database and sees you are indeed licensed, you get a “fix it” ticket and pay a small fee.

        CA Penal Code does not explicitly state that a licensee must have the permit on his/her person while carrying, but it is often a condition of issuance of the license per a Sheriff’s chosen policy. Note the links within this page that take you directly to pertinent sections of the P.C. on the CA Guv website.

        https://www.californiacarry.org/license-to-carry.html

        • I still wouldn’t take that chance. It is a risky assumption that an LEO in California is going to treat concealed carry the same as motor vehicle laws. Some LEOs will be understanding, but many of the rational ones have moved to other states.

  3. Unconstitutional laws are not laws at all and can be ignored. Queue all criminal state legislators, judges, and attorney generals explaining how the laws are valid because they say so in 3,2,1….

    • “Unconstitutional laws are not laws at all and can be ignored.”

      Actually….any/all laws can be ignored. The question is whether they can be ignored with impunity.

      In trying to ignore “unconstitutional” law, there remains the matter of who decides what is/is not “unconstitutional”. And, of course, how freedom from penalty for ignoring “unconstitutional” law is enforced.

      • That’s the problem in America right now, nobody holds anyone accountable. Our founding fathers would have taken action, pitchforks and torches are very convincing…

        • Someone at According to Hoyt pointed out that the American Revolution wasn’t the instantaneous affair we tend to think it was.

          The Boston Massacre occurred three years before the Boston Tea Party, which occurred two years before the accepted beginning of the war at Lexington and Concord. The Declaration of Independence was written after the militias and armies had already started fighting, and when Jefferson wrote of “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” he was referencing events that had happened in the 1760s.

          The Founding Fathers took action, yes…but it also took a long time for their actions to bear fruit. There was a decade-plus of unrest and “what can/should we do about this” before they flipped the table and went for the throat.

          We’re still well within the “causes leading up to” window. Heck, there might even be time for those causes not to lead up to mass bloodshed (maybe…we’ll see).

  4. Add New Jeresy, Maryland, California, I think its Mass or Rhode Island, maybe Conecticut (or several of them) . Oregon does not recognis e any other state’s Mother MayI Cards, but they do on a may issue basis, issue them to residents f contiguous states. If you live on Montana or Wymping, outta luck. And outta money if they catch you (they are not typically very proactive on this, but it can and does happen0.
    Far too many states will essentially deny many their natural God-given right to arms. And do so very expensively.

    • An armed traveler must be wary of state boundaries. My free state of Tennessee issues an HCP recognized in all but eleven states. For my part, I simply stay out of those eleven states. Federally mandated reciprocity sounds desirable, but that action opens the door to politically weighty states (like CA and NY) deciding the terms of national reciprocity.

      • Yeah, the great thing about the brand-new TN HCP policy is that the state will give you one if you think it will come in handy, but does not require that you have one. Ain’t Constitutional carry grand?

    • Oregon also ignores federal law about letting you have a gun you purchased — the Brady background check is treated as insufficient, so the state police get to do their own investigation, and there is no cut-off date. You could pay for a gun today and not be allowed to take possession of it until summer.

  5. “People Prosecuted Under Unconstitutional Gun Control Laws Should be Entitled to Restitution”

    Coupla things come to mind…

    – Defining the “loss”, or “damage” could be problematic
    – State and federal government hold “sovereign immunity”, and cannot be successfully sued, unless the “sovereign” party agrees to be sued.

    LBK ?

    • Thats the real problem. The taxpayers foot the bill when the bureaucrats should have to pony up for their actions. Many deserve prison time for what they do. Or don’t do.

  6. i won’t be happy until all of the pols skirting rule of law and rights are punished appropriately.
    i will never be happy.
    i’m all for the above individuals being compensated, but it is secondary to fining and incarcerating their captors.

  7. “…when Jefferson wrote of “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” he was referencing events that had happened in the 1760s.”

    If we use 1764 (Grenville Acts) as the “beginning” of “the long train”, it was eleven years of incubation for the American Revolution (Civil War 1). If we look at “modern” history, government seems to have struck a first blow (Waco) in 1993.

    Using the dates above (https://www.thoughtco.com/timeline-events-leading-to-american-revolution-104296), it appears rather difficult to support the idea that we are somehow still within the “leading up to” window of the founders.

  8. “People Prosecuted Under Unconstitutional Gun Control Laws Should be Entitled to Restitution.”
    Don’t hold your breath.

  9. Chas C-Q
    “…the fact that a right is not spelled out, or even mentioned in the Constitution, does not mean that it does not exist.”

    Always struck me as odd the SC did not base Roe on the 9th and 10th. But I also do know that the SC is not apolitical. Leaving the matter to the once upon a time States would reduce the power of the federal government, of which the SC is a part.

    The SC relied on “privacy” as an existing right, but not emanating from the 9th and 10th, but as a natural result of an enumerated right – the 14th amendment…retaining and protecting federal control over abortion.

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