Category: GUNS!

Circuit Courts Make Conflicting Rulings on Concealed Carry Laws

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals have reached conflicting decisions on individuals’ ability to carry concealed weapons.

The 10th Circuit Court decided that prohibiting an individual from carrying a concealed handgun is not an infringement on his or her Second Amendment rights, while the 7th Circuit Court decided that concealed carry bans are unconstitutional.

The 10th Circuit Court’s decision came from a case in which a Washington state resident wanted to carry his weapon around with him on his frequent visits to Colorado. Colorado does not recognize Washington’s concealed carry permits and only grants such licensing to its residents, meaning it was impossible for this man to legally hide a firearm on his person in Colorado. In its decision, the court focused on precedents that actually expanded individuals’ gun rights and explained why those decisions do not apply to concealed carry.

The 7th Circuit Court’s decision will actually force the state of Illinois to create a concealed carry licensing policy, which the state previously had banned. The argument there was that the Second Amendment’s language gives people the “right to bear arms” meaning individuals should be allowed to carry weapons outside of their homes. This is in opposition with the way the state’s laws were previously set up, which was people had the right to “keep” arms in their homes. The Second Amendment Foundation took the ruling as a major victory for interstate gun rights equality.

It’s tricky to say whether or not this will help reduce or will increase Chicago’s murder rate, which topped 500 last year. Some argue that people who are allowed to carry weapons will be better able to defend themselves from criminals. Because law-abiding citizens are currently prohibited from carrying concealed weapons outside of the home, they can’t fight back against criminals who don’t care about breaking a few gun laws here and there. The more obvious argument is the one against concealed carry: more guns in the city streets will likely lead to more violence. But, as I said, it’s tricky to tell how this will play out in the Windy City. Houston, a city that allows concealed carry and is similar in size and other factors to Chicago, has one third its murder rate.

Because of these wild discrepancies in circuit court rulings, the issue of concealed weapons may be one of the next major constitutional cases taken by the Supreme Court in the future.

Wisconsin Weapons Ban Challenged

Most people agree that keeping weapons out of the hands of hardened criminals is a good thing (I certainly do!). For this reason, lots of states have laws on the books which prevent convicted felons from possessing or owning a firearm. However, a case that is currently pending in Wisconsin reveals the problems that these types of broad statutory prohibitions can create.

A 44 year old Wisconsin man, who was convicted more than 25 years ago for the felony crime of forging checks, was recently arrested for the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm because he used his dad’s hunting rifle to shoot a couple of deer. This, in spite of the fact that he is clearly not a violent offender and has no history of violent acts. The case has been upheld at several levels, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court could still rule in his favor and in the process strike down this unnecessary restriction.

I’m all for keeping us safe by limiting criminals’ access to firearms, but I think this is the kind of case that merits special consideration, and I wish this man the best of luck in his case.