The three-judge panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Supreme Court’s decisions established a fundamental right to possess firearms in the home – but that that right did not entitle law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons in public places.
“What we know from these [Supreme Court] decisions is that Second Amendment guarantees are at their zenith within the home,” Judge Richard Wesley wrote for the panel.
“What we do not know,” he said, “is the scope of that right beyond the home and the standards for determining when and how that right can be regulated by a government.”
The court went on to conclude that the requirement of proof of a special need for self protection before receiving a permit was “entirely consistent” with the right to bear arms and the state’s traditional authority to regulate handgun possession in public.
“Plaintiffs contend that their desire for self defense is all the ‘proper cause’ required by the Second Amendment to carry a firearm,” Judge Wesley wrote.
“They reason that the exercise of the right to bear arms cannot be made dependent on a need for self protection, just as the exercise of other enumerated rights cannot be made dependent on a need to exercise those rights,” he said. “This is a crude comparison and highlights Plaintiffs’ misunderstanding of the Second Amendment.”
The court noted that state regulation under the Second Amendment has always been more restrictive than other constitutional rights. Wesley said no law could bar felons or the mentally ill from speaking on a particular topic or exercising their religious freedom, but regulations have long prevented felons and the mentally ill from possessing firearms.
“Our review of the history and tradition of firearm regulation does not clearly demonstrate that limiting handgun possession in public to those who show a special need for self-protection is inconsistent with the Second Amendment,” the court said.