Earlier this summer, a federal appeals court ruled the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to openly carry a gun in public for self-defense. The court ruled that the state of Hawaii overstepped its authority by regulating firearms possession outside of the home. The three-judge panel made the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the sixth U.S. Circuit court to to follow this interpretation of the Second Amendment. The split in the U.S. circuit court system could result in the issue coming before the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The SCOTUS has not addressed a major gun rights case since 2010.


Hawaii’s Prohibition

Gun rights have been a hot topic in the United States, where a steady stream of mass shootings have occured over the years. In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit found the state of Hawaii infringed on the rights of the plaintiff by twice denying him a permit the state mandates in order to be able to openly carry a gun in public. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit had previously held that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a right to carry concealed firearms in public. In 2017, the SCOTUS declined to rule on that decision. The first time the SCOTUS held the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep firearms for self-defense was in 2008.


Hawaii does not recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states in the nation. Hawaii requires a permit to acquire a firearm that is issued to qualified applicants by the police chief of the county. Hawaii mandates a minimum 14 to 20 day waiting period in order to receive a permit. The dissenting opinion in the Ninth Circuit’s decision noted the Constitution’s Second Amendment did not preclude the type of licensing rules used in Hawaii and other states across the country.


America’s Gun Laws

 Gun laws regarding openly carrying firearms differ from state to state and depending on the type of gun. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (GLCPGV) the states that are the most restrictive and do not allow people to open carry any kind of firearm include: California, Florida, Illinois and the District of Columbia. The GLCPGV’s data notes that Hawaii is one of 15 states mandating a license or permit to openly carry a handgun.


The SCOTUS has struck down gun ownership bans in the past. Gun ownership bans were struck down in the District of Columbia and Chicago in 2008 and 2010, respectively. That being said, the highest court in the land has been reluctant in recent years to address the issue again and has turned away ruling on challenges on gun restrictions.