The liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals endorsed the right of individuals to carry firearms in public in a ruling Tuesday, striking down a lower court argument that the Constitution only protects that right at home.
“Analyzing the text of the Second Amendment and reviewing the relevant history, including founding-era treatises and nineteenth century case law, the panel stated that it was unpersuaded by the county’s and the state’s argument that the Second Amendment only has force within the home,” the ruling states.
The case resulted from Hawaii resident George Young being denied twice in 2011 as he sought to carry a handgun. Two of the three judges -- who were both appointed by Republican presidents -- ruled against a lower court upholding the restriction.
Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in his opinion that “for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”
In his dissent, Judge Richard Clifton said states have “long allowed for extensive regulations of and limitations on the public carry of firearms,” the order said.
"We are disappointed in the decision that would undermine Hawaii’s strong gun control law and our commitment to protect the public,” Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki said in a statement. “But we note that Judge Clifton filed a well-reasoned dissent supporting the constitutionality of this law. We intend to consult with Hawai‘i County and work with them on further action."
It’s the second time this month that the three-judge panel issued a pro-Second Amendment decision, after backing a lower court’s decision last week to suspend California’s ban on the possession of large magazines.
The Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Activists, supported by the National Rifle Association, have argued that the state's ban on ownership of magazines holding 10 bullets or more is unconstitutional. They won a preliminary injunction by a San Diego district court last year, and a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit backed that injunction last week.
Based in San Francisco, the Ninth Circuit has a reputation for being one of the nation's most liberal courts. Critics have branded the court the “Nutty 9th” or the “9th Circus,” in part because many of its rulings have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. This includes an infamous 2002 ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because of its use of the phrase “under God.”
Republicans have been working to fill vacancies with conservatives, but suffered a setback last week when the White House withdrew the nomination of Ryan Bounds for the Ninth Circuit after realizing it did not have the necessary support in the Senate. He faced criticism over past college writings.
Fox News' Bill Mears, Adam Shaw, Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.