Despite last year’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller invalidating Washington D.C.’s handgun ban, states such as Minnesota have taken broad steps in curbing the extent of an individual’s right to own a firearm. In a series of decisions aimed at establishing rational boundaries to that Second Amendment right, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that a man convicted of a violent offense as a juvenile does not have a Second Amendment right to possess a firearm.
In a separate but unrelated decision the Minnesota Court of Appeals also held that a person who is intoxicated in public can be charged for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, despite the existence of conceal-and-carry laws in Minnesota. According to the Court, the conceal-and-carry statute does not override other public safety statutes such as public intoxication. Therefore, if you are in violation of another public safety law you have no right to carry a concealed weapon.
What is most significant about these decision sis that the Minnesota Court took on the Heller directly, setting the stage for a federal challenge that may answer once and for all whether or not the Second Amendment right is one that applies to the states. According to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the Heller decision was very limited and did not address at all whether Second Amendment rights can be incorporated and applied to the states or not.
In Heller, the Court held that individuals do possess a right to own a firearm for self-protection, and that the Second Amendment specifically protects that right. The decision wiped away decades of precedent tying the right to possess a firearm to militia service. The decision specifically left open the question of how to assess the varying gun laws across the country, but if Minnesota and other jurisdictions are any indication, states believe that such a right is not universal and may be limited in very significant ways.
photo courtesy of Beard Papa via Flickr
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