Last Thursday the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that an ordinance banning individuals from carrying loaded firearms in the city of Portland is constitutional.
The plaintiff, Jonathan D. Christian, was arrested for bringing a bag containing weapons into a convenience store in 2008. Though it appears that Christian didn’t have any intent to use the weapons unlawfully, nearby police officers found the bag to be suspicious.
Christian was discovered to have and empty gun holster, a loaded magazine, two knives, and pepper spray. The bag he carried contained two semi-automatic 9mm handguns and additional magazines.
Mr. Christian was then convicted of violating the gun ban, and the conviction carried a 30-day sentence. In 2011, he appealed his conviction to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The conviction was upheld.
Christian and his attorney then appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. The attorneys argued that it violated one’s right to keep and bear arms for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense, a right which is guaranteed in both the Oregon and U.S. Constitution.
Of course, the Second Amendment reads:
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.
The Oregon Constitution, Section 27 reads:
Right to bear arms; military subordinate to civil power. The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power.
Clearly by Oregon’s own Constitution, the ruling is a violation of Christian’s right to keep and bear arms for self defense. In fact, Oregon’s Constitution is even more detailed and forceful than the US Constitution. However, it seems elected officials are not adamant about upholding their oath of office.
The case before the court was Portland v. Jonathan D. Christian. Justice Richard Baldwin wrote the unanimous ruling explained that the ban is constitutional because it was not an outright ban on carrying loaded firearms in public. Instead, the ban regulates, “the manner of possession and use of firearms in public places.”
There are 14 exceptions to the law, including those with valid concealed carry permits, police officers, and licensed security guards, as well as other groups of people to bear loaded arms in public.
“The ordinance reflects a legislative determination,” Baldwin wrote, “that the risk of death or serious injury to members of the public moving about in public places is increased by the threat posed by individuals who recklessly fail to unload their firearms.”
I’m not surprised by the ruling. Apparently, neither was Mr. Christian. It seems clear that the idea of a loaded firearm in the hands of anyone other than those outlined in the ordinance is somehow considered a threat to the public by judges and elected officials, but this is absolute nonsense.
One wonders where either in the U.S. Constitution or the Oregon Constitution is says that you must obtain a permit to have the right to bear arms for self-defence. If it is a right, then no permit is needed, whether you carry a loaded gun or an unloaded one (I suppose you could use that one like a rock). Loaded or unloaded has nothing to do with this.
Justice Baldwin, the lower courts and the city of Portland violated the rights of Johnathan Christian as per their own Constitution and the US Constitution. As a result, they violated the rights of every citizen in Portland.
One thing that must be done though is to no longer elect people to office or to serve as judges who would restrict in any manner the right to keep and bear arms anywhere. As Second Amendment Foundation attorney Alan Gura, who argued the landmark Heller case in 2008 before the Supreme Court said, “We’d like to think that the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, but in reality, in the practical and for your daily life, the bill of rights means what judges tell you it means and judges in our country are a byproduct of the electoral process. Forget about 1791, the Second Amendment is on the ballot, this time, next time, every time.”
We must demand of those that we elect that they uphold the law of the land, even if they disagree with it.
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.