Constitutional Law—Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms—Valid Constitutional Restrictions on the Right to Bear Arms

by Matthew Sipf

On May 15, 2009, the plaintiff, Espanola Jackson, brought suit against the City and County of San Francisco challenging two San Francisco regulations as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The plaintiff challenged a regulation requiring a handgun in a residence to be carried on the person, “stored in a locked container[,] or disabled with a trigger lock.” The plaintiff also challenged a prohibition on the sale of “hollow point” ammunition within the City and County of San Francisco. The plaintiff challenged these regulations as infringing upon her right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

On August 30, 2012, the plaintiff, wishing to protect her rights under the Second Amendment, sought a preliminary injunction. Having an interest in using a firearm for self-defense, the plaintiff sought the right to keep her handgun “within the home in a manner ready for immediate use. The district court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction on November 26, 2012.

The plaintiff appealed the denial of a preliminary injunction on December 21, 2012. She challenged the order denying the motion alleging that both regulations “infringe upon her Second Amendment rights.” On appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, held, affirmed. The regulation requiring firearms to be disabled or in a locked container and the regulation prohibiting the sale of “hollowpoint” ammunition in the City and County of San Francisco are constitutional, despite these regulations burdening Second Amendment rights, because: (1) San Francisco has a legitimate objective in preventing firearm injuries and fatalities, and (2) the regulations are a reasonable fit to accomplish San Francisco’s objective. Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, 746 F.3d 953 (9th Cir. 2014).

The court faced the task of determining whether the San Francisco regulations are overly burdensome to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Considering regulations that “limit but do not destroy Second Amendment rights,” the court embarked on the task of determining the extent that the regulations burden Second Amendment rights and the extent to which the government can regulate and restrict the Second Amendment. The court analyzed the regulations under applicable standards governing Second Amendment jurisprudence to determine whether they withstood the appropriate constitutional scrutiny under the existing framework.

 

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