SAF says N.C. ‘emergency declaration’ proves its 2A lawsuit was proper


SAF’s Alan Gottlieb says his group’s federal court victory striking down North Carolina’s emergency powers prohibition on guns or ammunition outside the home following a disaster is proving the value of that 2012 court case. (Dave Workman)

The Second Amendment Foundation Wednesday reacted to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s emergency declaration to be proof that taking the state to court a few years ago to strike down the emergency powers statute and protect the right of the citizens to bear arms outside the home during a disaster was the right thing to do.

Democrat Cooper declared the emergency in reaction to the Coronavirus panic. But in the state, it is no longer legal to prohibit citizens from venturing outside their homes with firearms or ammunition. A federal court ruling in 2012 deemed that prohibition to be an unconstitutional infringement of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The ruling came from federal Judge Malcolm J. Howard, who subjected the state law to strict scrutiny. Judge Howard wrote at the time, “While the bans imposed pursuant to these statutes may be limited in duration, it cannot be overlooked that the statutes strip peaceable, law abiding citizens of the right to arm themselves in defense of hearth and home, striking at the very core of the Second Amendment.”

In retrospect, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb observed, “We could not have foreseen that our case against North Carolina would ever keep citizens safe in this kind of emergency, but we are delighted that no public official can arbitrarily render the state’s residents unable to defend themselves on the grounds of a declared emergency. That’s the time when honest citizens might need their firearms the most while away from home.”

When the lawsuit was filed, Gottlieb and others involved looked at it as a defensive measure for private citizens in the aftermath of a hurricane or some other natural disaster.

But now comes what the World Health Organization has just deemed to be a pandemic.
Still, many on social media have argued that the mainstream press is fomenting panic when cooler heads should prevail. Nobody is disputing there is a problem, but they are suspicious about the origins of the disease outbreak, and a veritable media chorus that many believe is only spreading fear.

The stock market is losing ground—dropping 20 percent over the past several days—and that is endangering retirement accounts, jobs, and other aspects of the economy.

SAF filed its legal action, known as Bateman v. Perdue, on the day in June 2010 the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, which was also a SAF case. It took almost two years for the North Carolina legal challenge to run its course. By then, lower courts were well aware that the McDonald ruling incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.

“Judge Howard made sense then,” Gottlieb recalled, “and his ruling makes even more sense today. We know there are all kinds of emergencies, including natural disasters, and while we never anticipated a problem like Coronavirus, which seems at least partly exacerbated by panic, the individual right to bear arms is no less important. At the time, we said SAF was winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time, and the situation in North Carolina underscores the significance of that strategy.”

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