Gun Rights Group Challenges N.C. Law Allowing Gun Bans During States of Emergency
The lawsuit, filed Monday, seeks a permanent injunction that would bar the governor, local officials and local governments from declaring states of emergency under which private citizens are prohibited from exercising their right to bear arms.
"Through this lawsuit in North Carolina, we intend to show that state emergency powers statutes that allow government officials to suspend fundamental civil rights, including the right to bear arms, are unconstitutional and therefore should be nullified,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb.
“Citizens do not surrender their civil rights just because of a natural or man-made disaster,” he added.
According to Article 36A, Chapter 14 of the North Carolina General Statutes, “it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area:
(1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or
(2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.
That law was invoked in the City of King, N.C., in February, when a state of emergency was declared following a heavy snowstorm.
The emergency declaration, signed by King Mayor Jack Warren on Feb. 5, 2010, read in part: “During the state of emergency, there shall be no sale or purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition, or any possession of such items along with any types of explosive off owner’s own premises.”
The plaintiffs – including a grassroots gun-rights group and three private citizens -- contend that that law barring the purchase, sale and possession of firearms and ammunition is unconstitutional, given Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which five of the nine justices said the Second Amendment applies to the states.
The Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association took the McDonald case to the Supreme Court.
In the North Carolina case, the Second Amendment Foundation is once again being represented by attorney Alan Gura, who led the legal effort in the McDonald case and also won the landmark Heller ruling that overturned the District of Columbia’s handgun ban in 2008.
The lawsuit, which names the North Carolina governor and other state officials, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.