On Thursday, many in Alabama celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Americans not only can have firearms in their homes but have a constitutional right to carry them when they leave.
The opinion, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, struck down a New York law that banned open carry and issued concealed-carry permits only when the applicant could demonstrate a special need greater than that of the average citizen for self-defense.
“New York’s ‘proper cause’ requirement serves as a de-facto concealed-carry ban for most citizens of that state and is a direct violation of the Second Amendment,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R). “Under New York’s severely limited concealed-carry law, you can only obtain a permit if you first prove you have already been a victim of a violent crime. Therefore, you have no right to proactively protect yourself by concealed-carry of a firearm outside your home.”
The Alabama Center for Law and Liberty (“ACLL”) was one of the first organizations to file a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief supporting the plaintiffs in this case after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. ACLL’s main point was that the Court should interpret the Second Amendment according to its text and the history surrounding its ratification, not according to judicial balancing tests.
ACLL President Matt Clark explained that Justice Thomas’s opinion did exactly that. Before the Court released its opinion, many lower courts had engaged in some form of trying to balance the interests of the state versus the interests of the individual in cases involving the right to carry firearms. The Court explicitly rejected that approach and looked to the text and history to conclude that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry commonly used handguns for self-defense.
Clark said that the Court also looked to history to define the contours of that right, as ACLL had urged it to do.
The Court found that history reveals that carrying “dangerous or unusual weapons” for the purpose of terrifying the public was illegal, as was carrying arms into highly sensitive places like schools or government buildings, but the Court reasoned that those situations were different than a person carrying a handgun for self-defense in public.
Congressman Barry Moore (R-AL02) issued a statement applauding the ruling. Last year, Moore joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in this case.
“The right to bear arms is not a second-tier right, and an attack on the Second Amendment is an attack on all our constitutional rights,” said Moore. “I'm encouraged that the Supreme Court recognized that no state can require an American citizen to petition their government for permission to exercise a right guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Marshall stated, “Last July, I filed a legal brief in the case New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, opposing the law, and I am pleased the U.S. Supreme Court has declared the Empire State’s patently illegal concealed-carry ban unconstitutional by a 6-3 majority.”
The Alabama attorney general joined attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in filing the amicus brief on July 20, 2021.
The ruling is expected to affect similar laws in other states restricting the Second Amendment's exercise.
“Similar unlawful restrictions on gun rights in other states will soon be challenged and citizens’ rights to protect themselves will be upheld once and for all,” Marshall said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“It’s time folks keep a level head on issues dealing with our constitutional rights as Americans, and that is exactly what our U.S. Supreme Court did through its decision today,” Ivey said in a statement. “While we Alabamians do not have to worry about our rights being infringed upon, law-abiding citizens in states like New York are fighting simply for their right to bear arms. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment means exactly what it says: A citizen’s right to carry a firearm in public should not be subject to the whims of a government bureaucrat. This is a win for the Second Amendment and win for common sense.”
“Today’s decision was a major victory for the right of self-defense and for the rule of law,” said Clark “The Second Amendment is not a second-class right, and today’s decision gave it the respect it deserves. We commend the Court for its well-reasoned decision, and we hope to see more like it in the future.”
ACLL is a conservative nonprofit legal organization based in Birmingham, Alabama, and it is the litigation arm of the Alabama Policy Institute.
Thursday’s landmark ruling comes on the heels of Senate passage of the most restrictive gun control law in thirty years.
You can read the entire Supreme Court ruling online.
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