While gun rights supporters might like to think the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is an absolute guarantee against government interference, according to at least one (relatively conservative) appeals court, they are severely mistaken. In fact, according to that same court, when it comes to carrying concealed weapons, the Second Amendment is basically irrelevant.
Last Friday, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision in the case of Peterson v. Martinez, a case involving the question of whether a state has an obligation to provide a concealed carry license to anyone who has been granted such a license in another state. Their answer was, to put it mildly, “no.”
In fact, the court adopted a fairly novel approach in explaining why the right to keep and bear arms didn’t apply in this case: Rather than rely solely on precedent that restricted gun rights, they built most of their analysis on language from cases that expanded gun rights, but still made clear that there were limits, of which concealed carry was certainly one. As Lawyers.com’s Larry Bodineput it, “To bullet-proof the ruling against an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 10th Circuit recounted numerous court rulings and state laws dating back to 1813, and based its ruling on prior U.S. Supreme Court cases.”
Still, given which judges ended up deciding the case, this approach may be less surprising than it first appears. While the decision was written by Judge Carlos Lucero, a Clinton appointee, all three judges voted unanimously against the right to concealed carry, which may surprise some, given that one (Judge Bobby Ray Baldock) was a Reagan appointee, and the other (Judge Harriz Hartz) was a nominee by the second President Bush, neither of whom were presidents known for nominating liberal judges.