by Rodney Glassman
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deciding an important Second Amendment issue – namely, whether the Second Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to carry concealed firearms outside the home for purposes of self-defense. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the Court will determine whether New York’s discretionary gun permit law, which requires an applicant to demonstrate “proper cause” to carry a weapon for self-defense purposes, violates the Second Amendment.
New York requires a person to show a special need for self-protection as a prerequisite for issuance of an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm in public.
If state licensing officers determine that an applicant does not have proper cause for a self-defense license, they can grant an applicant a “restricted” license allowing the applicant to carry a handgun for certain limited purposes such as hunting or target practice. After the state rejected two concealed-carry applications because they failed to show “proper cause” including the need for self-defense, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association along with the denied applicants sued the State of New York alleging that the restriction violated their Second Amendment rights. Both a federal trial court, and a federal court of appeals, rejected those argument despite two previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upheld a citizen’s Second Amendment right to “bear arms.” Having heard oral argument on Nov. 3, 2021, the Supreme Court must now weigh in on the issue.
Fortunately for Arizona residents, Arizona, like a majority of states, uses the objective “shall issue” requirements for firearm permits rather than the subjective “may issue” criteria permitted by New York law, thus protecting Arizona’s citizens from arbitrary and capricious licensing determinations. Better still, Arizonans enjoy what is known as “Constitutional Carry” which allows the carrying of concealed weapons without any permit required. It is why Arizona has been ranked the #1 pro-Second Amendment state in the country for nearly a decade. Two provisions, one state law and one section of the Arizona State Constitution, protect our citizens from this unnecessary government overreach.
Article II, section 26, of the Arizona Constitution states that “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, or employ an armed body of men.” As importantly, 12 A.R.S. section 714 (B)(1) expressly states that “[t]he citizens of this state have the right… to keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Article II, section 26 of the Arizona Constitution. Even so, our courts have determined that the right is not absolute in all cases, and that a person’s right to bear arms, even in self-defense, must be balanced with state’s police power to make reasonable regulations to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens. For example, the right of the state to prohibit a felon from possessing a firearm has been held not to violate Article II, section 26.
Arizona’s Constitution expressly provides more rights than the U.S. Constitution for citizens and our rights to bear arms. Thus even in the unlikely event that the U.S. Supreme Court upholds New York’s restrictions on carrying firearms in public, the general right of Arizona citizens to carry firearms outside the home should remain intact.
We are fortunate to have strong laws protecting our Second Amendment rights in Arizona. When I’m traveling around the state as part of my campaign to be Arizona’s next Attorney General, I remind everyone that the job of whoever ends up in that office will be to protect Arizona’s citizens from the government and to protect not only the rights granted by the United States Constitution, but also the more expansive rights prescribed by the Arizona state Constitution.
Rodney Glassman is major in the United States Air Force JAG Corps Reserve and practicing attorney at Beus Gilbert McGroder PLLC. He may be reached at email@example.com.