Not Exactly

I am not a lawyer, so take what I write here with some degree of skepticism. I see two items pop up on Memeorandum and read them both. I am not reassured by either analysis.

Item the first:

The Constitution’s protection of an individual right to have guns for personal use restricts the powers of state and local government as much as it does those of the federal government, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled Monday. The opinion by the three-judge panel can be found here. This is the first ruling by a federal appeals court to extend the Second Amendment to the state and local level. Several cases on the same issue are now awaiting a ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court.

Item the second:

Well, today the Ninth Circuit (the federal appellate court covering most Western states) ruled that the Second Amendment restricts the power of state and local governments to interfere with individual right to have guns for personal use. That is, the Fourteenth Amendment “incorporates” the Second Amendment against the states, as the Supreme Court has found it to do for most of the Bill of Rights. I rarely get a chance to say this, but the Ninth Circuit gets it exactly right.

Here’s the problem, from the first cited link:

But, following the lead of the Supreme Court’s decision last June in District of Columbia v. Heller, finding a personal right in the Second Amendment for the first time, the Circuit Court concluded that the right as interpreted by the Justices is limited to “armed self-defense” in the home. (Emphasis added)

From my reading of this, the decision is not a sweeping victory for the individual right to keep and bear arms. Rather, it is a sweeping victory for people to keep guns in their homes. Period.

Perhaps I am not nuanced enough in my reading of this “victory” for the rights of the Second Amendment. But, to me, this sounds a lot like the Federal right can be interpreted as being fairly meaningless at the local level. (The plaintiffs, incidentally, lost this decision. In effect, a county government can restrict the right to keep and bear arms, as I read this.) 

 Maybe someone can explain this better than I can. But the right to keep and bear arms in your own home isn’t all that much of a victory, as I see it.

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2 Responses to Not Exactly

  1. The way I look at it, this decision sets a baseline or boundary. Now the argument will be just where to draw them.

    The Ninth Circuit’s opinion only covers the states in its jurisdiction. This decision will not only be almost certainly reviewed by the full court, but, if another circuit comes up with a conflicting ruling, then its sure to head for the SCOTUS. This is by no means over.

    And, like you, I was very surprised to see this decision come from this court.

  2. MikeM says:

    Limited to armed self-defense in the home? I don’t think a militia ever operated from individual homes.

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