States Curbing Gun Rights

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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Trevor W.
Trevor W.6 years ago

I'm with Tobi M. Why are some of you folk open to the idea guns are OK if they're issued for hunting? The two worst massacres by guns here in the UK was by people licenced to hold guns to shoot birds and animals. Why would anyone be surprised by that? An absence of compassion and empathy is as close to a definition of psychotic as you can get. As for the tedious and childish defence of guns such as 'it's people that kill, not guns" and 'banning guns will only drive ownership underground", well, I don't see someone with a screwdriver being in a position to kill twenty students on campus before he's apprehended, and illegal activity by definition is 'underground'.

Walter G.
Walter g.6 years ago

I over ran my first comment and there is a grammer flaw. "we need a solution." I don't know what it is, that is what we hire our government for. How do you like the job they've failed to do so far?I aploogize to the readers.

Walter G.
Walter g.6 years ago

Never mind all of the usual arguments against private firearms ownership, and face the fact that in locations such as New York City, Baltimore, Washington DC itself, and various other locations with anti-gun ownership laws bordering on the silly, gun crimes are common.

Why is it that criminals ignore the gun laws while law abiding citizens must resort to through the ancient Chinese-developed Kung Fu usage of garden tools, large meat cleavers, ignition keys, and screwdrivers?

Grade school students buy advanced firearms and ammunition out of car trunk roving "stores," and some citizens just bypass the laws by going to a state with liberal firearms laws, or to private sources, and keep unregistered firearms at hand using a form of "don't ask, don't tell."

Can't afford to buy a gun? Commit a traffic infraction, and when the cop walks up to your window to see the usual documents, shoot him and take what he has. Driving not your cup of tea? Break into a home, call 911 with some juicy tidbit to get the action started, and ambush the various authorities arriving for their weapons and radios. Drive the cars away so you have more time to take possession of the items, or sell them car to a chop shop.

Outlawing firearms will be similar to outlawing the drug trade, or prohibition, it will just increase the prices of the contraband.

So far banning privately owned firearms has not accomplished anything except driving the ownership and transfer underground. We need a

Jessica Pieklo
Jessica Pieklo6 years ago

As an update to this story, yesterday the NRA filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court asking the specific question as to wether or not the Second Amendment was incorporated to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. A link to the filing and a good discussion of the issue can be found here:

Carol H.
Past Member 6 years ago

As far as I am concerned guns only do one thing KILL and nobody except for cops should carry a gun because now a days people are just to hot and that is a fact.

David J.
David J.6 years ago

I am a Canadian.

In Canada you can own a gun legally, fairly easily, if you are a member of a gun club or have a hunting license AND your spouse has signed a waiver saying it's OK AND you follow the laws surrounding proper gun storage and transport.

Nobody except Bona-Fide collectors, Police and Military are allowed to have machine guns or automatic weapons of any kind.

99.9% of gun crimes in Canada are committed with hunting rifles & shotguns, or 'illegal' weapons which appear to be plentiful enough.

My point is that governments can spend bazillions of dollars regulating weapons but the people doing illegal things with weapons are not going to have 'legal' weapons or follow 'rules'.

You really can't control a population's activities in a 'free' country.

What you CAN control is the manufacturers and what they are allowed to make and how they are allowed to distribute what they make.

PS - I understand the American constitution and the supposed 'right to bear arms' as a defence against tyranny and allow the ability to form ad-hoc militia groups.

The problems with that 'right' are: Most Ad-Hoc militia groups are a collection of whack-jobs and you do not want them in your neighborhood, and, unless the citizenry has the right to bear F18s and Nuclear Weapons, they will never outgun the likely sources of tyranny, so why does an 18 year old kid need or have the 'right to bear' a Mak10??

They can only use that for one thing - trouble and mayhem.

Tobi M.
Tobi M.6 years ago

I can not understand - and neither know anybody who does - why you americans (sorry for the generalization) are so obsessed with guns. No one who is not a soldier or a cop needs a gun. Exception: hunting, and these are not the guns we are talking about... We are talking about people killing machines - so why does anybody need (semi-) automatic rifles and handguns? To let your children play with them? I can tell you, you would just feel SO much safer if NOBODY would be allowed to own ANY gun than by thinking you need to have one to protect yourself against others...

I live in Germany, btw, and we had our issues with children getting their hands on guns recently, too. If you take on a lot of bureaucracy you are allowed to buy guns in special stores here, too - if you have a special locker to keep them. Even that is sometimes not precaucious enough, as we had to see - now they changed the law to be able to control these people who own guns unexpectedly, and they go directly to jail if they don't lock the guns in a special locker.
Still - allthough I am quite techy and can understand the mechanical interest in the functioning of various guns, I think everybody who needs to own one is a pervert.

personal oppinion...

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.6 years ago

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.

The right of the people means exactly what it says: we the people have the right to bear arms. One of the reasons for this, as prefaced, is to promote our ability to form militias if necessary, but obviously that would be impossible were the people not allowed to bear arms. No activism at all - just taking the words literally.

As a long-time NRA member, I know very few people - in fact I might not know any - who object to prohibiting the carrying of guns while intoxicated, or revoking that right for felons. That really is the crux of the matter that surrounds Heller. DC intended to prohibit its residents from owning guns, which is unconstitutional. There is little debate that the states should have the right to reasonable regulation of guns- but reasonable means that it doesn't infringe the common right to guns.

Jessica Pieklo
Jessica Pieklo6 years ago

Show me the words "individual right to bear arms" in the Second Amendment. I use the term "judicial activism" purposefully and playfully here to point out a fault in the logic of the Federalists. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms the same way that the 4th and 5th Amendments protect an individual's right to privacy- not through the exact language used in the Amendment, but as a result of thoughtful analysis of the meaning of the words and their historical context.

I assume, and frankly have no issue with, an incorporation of the Second Amendment to the states. It is a logical extension of the jurisprudence in this area. And, I think the Second Amendment does protect an individual right to bear arms, even though a strict constructionalist should not.

And yes, the Minnesota regulations were specifically targeted post-Heller by pro-gun groups, so these kinds of regulations may not have the broad support among gun proponents as is thought.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W.6 years ago

Aren't you going to bring up Presser? You know I'm waiting for it.