CAN STATE LIMIT SELF-DEFENSE TO INSIDE YOUR HOME?
Another fight over guns looming for Supreme Court
WND EXCLUSIVE – Bob Unruh
The U.S. Supreme Court, which in recent years ruled in the Heller case that the Second Amendment does protect an individual right to bear arms, and in the McDonald case that state’s cannot unreasonably restrict that right, now is facing another fight over guns.
It involves the effective ban that New Jersey has imposed on those who feel the need for self-protection outside of their own homes.
For example, officials in New Jersey ruled that a man who services ATM machines and carries large amounts of cash doesn’t need a handgun to protect himself. Likewise, a reserve deputy who “disrupts” criminal activity on duty is perfectly safe without a handgun while off-duty.In New Jersey, a request for permission to carry a handgun for protection has to be submitted to police, who have to approve it and forward it to a judge, who must issue the permit. And every permit must be justified, in that the judge must be convinced there is, in his or her own opinion, a need for self-defense.
The Second Amendment Foundation recently asked the Supreme Court to review, and fix, that standard, because of the conclusion of the lower courts, who said, “It remains unsettled whether the individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends beyond the home.”
The arguments were prepared by attorneys Alan Gura (who won Second Amendment victories in the groundbreaking Heller and McDonald cases) and David Jensen, and is the most recent effort to bring a right-to-carry case before the high court.
“The right to self-defense is sacrosanct,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “yet has been disparaged and denied to all but an elite few in states like New Jersey. Individuals and families should not be deprived of the right to defend themselves and we intend to change that.”
“This case could resolve the right to carry issue not only for New Jersey, but for the entire nation,” added Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. “So far the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the issue in other cases, but this case may be different due to the extreme nature of New Jersey’s law, which effectively denies law-abiding citizens their fundamental right to self-defense outside the home.”
He continued, “The petition is an exceptional piece of legal work that is well worth taking the time to read. It extensively documents the differing opinions of lower courts throughout the nation that need to be reconciled, and observes: ‘The notion that carrying handguns outside the home is ‘conduct falling outside the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee’ simply cannot be squared with Heller…[H]istory, consensus, and simple common sense do not remotely support New Jersey’s law, a relatively modern and intensely controversial regulation that exists in only a small handful of states’.”
Gottlieb, whose organization is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research and legal action group focusing on the Second Amendment, said, “It is time for the high court to clarify that the right to bear arms does not stop at someone’s front door.
“What other constitutional right is confined to one’s house? The Second Amendment was never meant to be encumbered with such a limitation, and it cannot possibly be interpreted that way, but it will take a Supreme Court ruling to convince lower courts and anti-gunners, and put this debate to rest.”
Such gun laws recently were in the news, with the case of an officer in nearby Maryland who stopped a traveler going through the state and demanded, “Where is your gun?”
State police there told WND they have launched an internal investigation into the case. But social media isn’t waiting for the results, with countless calls for a lawsuit over the incident that happened over the holiday period as John Filippidis, described in his local newspaper as a “silver-haired family man, business owner, employer and taxpayer,” drove through Maryland returning from family events in New Jersey to his Florida home.
And an expert on the Fourth Amendment’s assurance of protection for Americans’ privacy says in a few years, police won’t even need to ask such questions, since they’ll have drones flying overhead with sensors that will tell them if there is a weapon in a vehicle.
The driver’s version of the story was chronicled by, among others, columnist Tom Jackson in the Tampa Tribune.
Jackson said Filippidis ordinarily carries a gun because of the cash he carries for his work.
But when he went on a family trip, he left it locked in a safe in his home.
Reported Jackson, “So there the Filippidises were on New Year’s Eve, southbound on Interstate 95 – John; wife Kally (his Gulf High sweetheart): the 17-year-old twins Nasia and Yianni; and 13-year-old Gina in their 2012 Ford Expedition – just barely out of the Fort McHenry Tunnel into Maryland, blissfully unarmed and minding their own business when they noticed they were being bird-dogged by an unmarked patrol car. It flanked them a while, then pulled ahead of them, then fell in behind them.” Such maneuvers took maybe 10 or 15 minutes, reports said.
Eventually the lights went on, and Filippidis pulled over.
The officer, from the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, asked about license and registration details, and returned to his vehicle.
Then he came back, ordering Filippidis out of the vehicle, and to hook his thumbs behind his back and spread his feet.
“You own a gun,” said the officer. “Where is it?”
At home, said Filippidis.
The officer then asked Kally Filippides, who said she didn’t know. Then she added, maybe in the glove box, or in the console – she didn’t know.
The result? The Expedition was emptied of all people, possessions and packages. An hour passed, maybe more. Much later, no weapon found, they resumed their trip.
Police told WND it appeared ordinary protocols were followed, but they couldn’t release more information until their investigation was done.
But Fourth Amendment expert John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute said those online commenters probably have it right – there should be a court case.
As the author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” Whitehouse doesn’t hide his opinion that Americans already are living under a police state – and that needs to change.
“This is only going to get worse,” he also told WND.
Soon, he said, there will be a police drone flying over traffic, scanning vehicles, and telling authorities if there is an weapon in any of the vehicles.
“This new technology completely bypasses all constitutional protections,” he said, allowing government to collect nearly unlimited information on individuals, such as what the National Security Agency has been doing with telephone call monitoring.
Even the National Rifle Association, after WND asked for its perspective on the dispute, weighed in, warning that gun owners trying to comply with all the laws may not be able to avoid trouble.
The questions facing the Supreme Court are whether the Second Amendment secures a right for self-defense outside the home and whether state officials are allowed to demand that people prove a “justifiable need” for self-defense.
The case is brought by John Drake, Greg Gallaher, Lenny Salerno, Finley Fenton, the foundation and the gun clubs, against the state officials who denied the gun carry permits.
The high court needs to rule, since lower courts now are divided on the issue, the brief argues.
The SAF quoted one judge involved in a related case, “Limiting this fundamental right to the home would be akin to limiting the protection of First Amendment freedom of speech to political speech or college campuses.”