Recently, the Supreme Court of the US declined to hear a case originating in Florida related to open carry laws and their constitutionality. By choosing not to take the case, SCOTUS effectively let stand a Florida Supreme Court decision that the ban on the open carry of firearms is, indeed, fully constitutional and does not violate the second amendment’s protection from the government’s ability to seize or prohibit firearms.
Six years ago, a Floridian named Dale Norman was fined $300 for having been found guilty of misdemeanor possession of a firearm. Norman was in possession of a conceal-carry license that was up-to-date as of his arrest in Fort Pierce, but Florida is one among a number of states with serious restrictions on open carry of firearms, or the practice of keeping a firearm in the sightline of an average passer-by.
Norman and his lawyer argued that Florida’s law violated the second amendment by infringing on his right to “keep and bear arms.” Norman’s case drew the attention of Florida Carry, a nonpartisan advocacy group focused on protecting the people’s inherent right to firearms remains safe from the reach of the government. After the Florida court ruled against them, the plaintiffs petitioned SCOTUS to hear the case, arguing that rulings in Chicago and DC had set the precedent that the second amendment is not limited to the home, and as such, bans on open carry violate the right of the people.
Ratified along with nine other amendments known colloquially as the Bill of Rights, the second amendment is a convoluted and opaque sentence that was paid little mind for long stretches of American history. It reads as follows, punctuation and all:
“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.”
Up until the mid 1900s, the amendment was, by and large, ignored. It was the civil rights movement that really brought national attention to the rights that citizens bore inherently. Members of the Black Panther Party, in a public statement against alleged abuses of police officers against black citizens, would appear on the scene whenever police arrived and survey their behavior from a legal distance, packing handguns. The NRA, originally founded with the intent of being a sports magazine in the style of Sports Illustrated, took up the call for an organization to protect the right of the people from the federal government.
Today, pro-gun and anti-gun activists alike call on the Heller decision as the most recent SCOTUS ruling on the intent and application of the 2nd amendment in an era of more powerful weapons available to citizens. In sum, between District of Columbia v Heller and MacDonald v City of Chicago, SCOTUS ruled that the 2nd amendment covers weapons for self defense, not just for military purposes.