Gun Rights In America

You file lawsuits to protect people’s Second Amendment rights, and your most recent one in California seeks to establish a right to “bear arms” publicly for self-defense. Why is that?

We sued about seven years ago in the Peruta case in San Diego, because the sheriff there wasn’t giving out gun-carry permits unless you had “good cause.” [That case led to a defeat of the pro-gun side in the federal appeals court in San Francisco. The court gave local law enforcement officials broad leeway to deny concealed-carry licenses.] At roughly the same time, the state of California effectively eliminated by statute the ability to open-carry in response to these guys going into Starbucks and scaring people when they walked into the stores with open-carry firearms. Our new lawsuit in the Flanagancase says you can’t ban both open and concealed carry. You have to allow one manner of carry or the other. That’s how you allow people to “bear arms.”

How many suits like Flanagan are filed around the country each year?

[In recent years] there were probably a couple hundred lawsuits filed, 50 of them by the top Second Amendment players. I’m just on the team; there’s a lot of other lawyers across the country working at the top levels.

After the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court [establishing an individual right to keep a gun in the home], there were a ton of Second Amendment lawsuits filed. Unfortunately, a lot of them were filed by unqualified, inexperienced, underfunded lawyers. They thought they could staple the Heller decision to their complaint and mail it in. And then there were the more sophisticated, higher-level lawyers who worked for either the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment Foundation, who filed some suits with much more strategy behind them. But even the more skillfully crafted suits haven’t had much success, because of the hostility of most lower courts—or at least the majority of judges on most lower courts.


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