Your Congressman could help pave the way for another Second Amendment victory

Does the Second Amendment protect a citizen’s right to carry a gun outside the home for purposes of self-defense? It may seem like a silly question in light of two landmark United States Supreme Court decisions which established that the right to keep and bear arms is a protected individual liberty.

But, in a radical opinion issued in September, the Third District Court of Appeals held that there is no right to carry a gun for self-defense under the Second Amendment. The court also held that lawmakers can prohibit individuals from exercising their right absent a “justifiable need.”

The case, Drake v. Jerejian, deals with a New Jersey law that strictly regulates the issuance of gun permits to citizens. Essentially, a resident has to prove some compelling reason (“justifiable need”) to a superior court judge in order to obtain a permit, which are rarely granted.

Now, the appellate court recognized the precedent established by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and incorporated to the states in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), but the majority said that “[i]t remains unsettled whether the individual right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends beyond the home.”

The plaintiffs in the case haven’t given up. In January, the Second Amendment Foundation and Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs filed a certiorari petition asking the Supreme Court to hear Drake, in what is the next big fight for this constitutionally protected civil liberty.

“What other constitutional right is confined to one’s house?” said Alan Gottlieb, Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment, in a statement. “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.”

Alan Gura, who prepared the cert petition and argued Drake before the appellate court, is encouraging Second Amendment supporters to contact their representatives in Congress and encourage them to sign an amicus petition currently being circulated by Rep. George Holding (R-NC).

“The Constitution empowers Congress to enforce our fundamental civil rights, including the Second Amendment, against recalcitrant state and local officials,” Gura told United Liberty. “Lawmakers who value this important right can and should express their concern about decisions eviscerating this right to the Supreme Court.”

Gura argued the Heller and McDonald cases at the Supreme Court.

The petition, Gura said, could make the justices feel more comfortable about taking the case. He did stress, however, that interested members must sign the petition no later than the morning of February 12.

The Supreme Court will most likely announce in mid-April whether it will next the case, with oral arguments to follow in the next term. Assuming justice grant the cert petition, Gura said that he doesn’t expect a decision until June 2015.

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