Texas has joined 21 other states in asking the Supreme Court to uphold Hawaiians’ Second Amendment right to bear arms following a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year that upheld Hawaii’s ban on residents bearing arms outside of their homes.
The states filed an amicus brief with the high court to help resolve a split among the federal circuit courts of appeals after several of the courts ruled against the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, a landmark gun-rights ruling.
“One of the highest responsibilities of a state is to safeguard the rights of its citizens,” the states wrote (pdf) in their brief last week, “including the right ‘to keep and bear arms’ under the Second Amendment.”
“Law-abiding citizens keep firearms for self-protection—both inside and outside of their homes. Amici seek to ensure that their residents will not be deprived of their Second Amendment freedoms.”
The states have argued that residents’ Second Amendment rights include using guns outside of their homes.
“The plain text of the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, not just to keep them,” the court filing reads. “Yet Hawaii’s firearm carrying regulatory regime functions as an outright ban on the right to carry guns outside the home for most people. It therefore violates the Second Amendment.”
After the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision, as well as the 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago ruling, the “lower courts have applied inconsistent standards in Second Amendment challenges to state firearm restrictions,” the states wrote.
The 1st, 7th, and D.C. circuit courts have all ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms exists outside of the home. But other appeals courts issued rulings inconsistent with those decisions, the amicus brief noted.
“Inconsistent decisions by the lower federal courts have left States uncertain as to the precise boundary between permissible and impermissible restrictions,” the brief stated. “These inconsistencies have also prevented citizens of amici States from exercising their right to carry and bear arms across State lines.”
The filing is being led by the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana, Arizona, and Montana.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, confirmed last week that Texas is joining the amicus brief.
“The blatant misinterpretation of the Second Amendment by the Ninth Circuit must be remedied,” Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. “We are asking for the Court to simply uphold the Second Amendment as it is written. The lower courts have flagrantly disregarded the Supreme Court’s instructions in Heller, leaving the right to bear arms in jeopardy. We must have a clear and concise ruling that protects the Second Amendment from lower courts’ hostility to gun rights to prevent this type of infringement from happening yet again.”