Please Don't Bring Your Guns to the Riot
Score one for law enforcement.
On Thursday, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a brief in a federal court in North Carolina seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit that hopes to allow private citizens to carry guns openly during riots or other, similar emergencies. The suit, Bateman v. Purdue, was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The Brady Center's brief argues that there is no right of armed vigilantes to take to the streets during riots or congregate in the vicinity of emergency responders trying to secure a downtown during riots, looting, or terrorist attacks. The prospect of police and emergency responders being powerless to stop bands of armed citizens from taking to the streets during emergencies, looting, or rioting poses a serious threat to the government’s ability to maintain public order and deliver emergency services. If the lawsuit were successful, law enforcement would be unable to detect whether roaming armed individuals or gangs were would-be looters, terrorists, or vigilantes, thus jeopardizing their safety and their ability to respond to states of emergency.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the Second Amendment grants a right to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, but emphasized that this right “is not unlimited” and is subject to “reasonable firearms regulations.” The Supreme Court has held that bans on carrying concealed weapons do not violate the Second Amendment and courts have given the government broad authority to restore order during riots and emergencies.
Brady Center President Paul Helmke says that the second amendment doesn't legalize vigilantism, even during times of emergency. “Police and emergency responders seeking to quell a riot," he said, "should not be forced to contend with legally-authorized armed individuals and groups roaming alleys and public streets." You don't say!