Army veteran vows to take open carry fight to the Supreme Court

Afdal Agency
Amnon Jakony (Jay Arts Holdings)

The U.S. Army veteran challenging Hawaii’s restrictive open-carry laws has vowed to take his case to the Supreme Court after losing in the Ninth Circuit this week, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Alan Beck, the lawyer representing native Hawaiian plaintiff George Young, told the outlet, “We’re planning on filing for a writ of certiorari. We’re not letting this lie.”

Beck’s statement came in response to a ruling passed down on Wednesday by the full 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, in which the court rejected his challenge, choosing to uphold a Hawaii law that effectively terminates his right to bear arms outside the home.

According to the Firearms Policy Coalition, the law Young is challenging “requires that residents seeking a license to openly carry a firearm demonstrate good moral character, that he or she will be ‘engaged in the protection of life and property,’ and ‘the urgency or the need’ to carry a firearm.”

The gun-rights group noted that “in practice, virtually nobody ever demonstrates a strong enough urgency or need to be issued a license, so the licensing requirement operates as a prohibition.”

Young was twice denied an open-carry license by the state over his failure to demonstrate a sufficient “urgency” or “need.” In response, he decided to challenge the law in the court system, arguing that the state’s restrictions are unconstitutional since his desire to bear arms for self-defense is all that is needed under the Second Amendment.

After first being ruled against by a district court, Young received a favorable ruling from a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. However, the appeals court decided to rehear the case en banc, or in front of its entire bench.

In that case, the court’s majority disagreed, writing in the ruling: “There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment.”

In coming to the decision, the court cited an alleged “longstanding” tradition in English and American law allowing government to prohibit “certain weapons from entering … public spaces as means of providing ‘domestic Tranquility’ and forestalling ‘domestic Violence.”

Beck told the Free Beacon that while the ruling is certainly a disappointment, there is a silver lining. Since the Ninth Circuit had elsewhere ruled against protections for concealed carry, it had become the first court to effectively ban carrying firearms outside the home, a position he indicated would likely demand review.

“The Ninth Circuit just became the first court of appeals to expressly state that the Second Amendment right does not apply to armed self-defense outside the home,” he said. “Therefore, it is expressly split with the Seventh Circuit, the D.C. Court of Appeals. That opens up the possibility of Supreme Court review.”