Most people watch gun-related court cases in states other than their own with more curiosity than anything else. After all, it’s not like those cases really matter to us all that much.
However, what happens in one state can inform jurists in another state how to both pursue a case and even potentially how to rule on such a case. While state laws and constitutions are different, those differences are often more cosmetic–slightly different phrasing to reach the same point–than substantial.
A court case in Ohio is one that, if it gets followed in other states, may have significant ramifications for many of us.
An Ohio man is arguing that having a few too many at home shouldn’t make handling one’s own firearm illegal. The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday for and against Fred Weber’s arrest.
His attorneys say his arrest was unconstitutional because he was in his own home and the weapon was unloaded. A filing with the Ohio Supreme Court says whether someone is intoxicated or sober should have nothing to do with having a gun at home.
Prosecutors argue Weber was not exercising his right to bear arms in a virtuous manner by holding a weapon while intoxicated.
According to court documents, Weber was arrested on Feb. 17, 2018, after the 911 call from his wife that reported Weber was in possession of a firearm and intoxicated. When law enforcement arrived, Weber said the shotgun he was holding was unloaded and that he was unloading it to wipe it down. Officers took possession of the shotgun and confirmed it was unloaded and they also did not observe any ammunition for the shotgun.
There was no indication he intended to use it for anything illegal, either. So, the heart of the matter is whether one is allowed to hold their lawfully-owned firearm while intoxicated.
Now, we all know that guns and alcohol don’t mix. The last thing any of us want to see is a bunch of folks with coolers of beer at the gun range, in part because people who are intoxicated don’t necessarily make good decisions. Hell, most of us have stories about when we were drunk that prove it. Lord knows I do.
So yeah, you really shouldn’t be messing around with guns while intoxicated.
But on the other hand, you don’t always get to pick when you need to handle a firearm. There’s nothing about this case that suggests Weber wouldn’t have been charged had he shot an intruder or someone threatening his life. While we’d all like to believe he wouldn’t be prosecuted under such circumstances, it’s best not to hold one’s breath.
If this case goes against Weber, the court is ruling that you essentially give up your Second Amendment rights the moment you reach a certain level of intoxication. It means that if someone breaks into your home after you’ve been drinking, you have no option but to be a victim.
However, there’s also no reason to believe such legal reasoning wouldn’t be implemented in other states. Sure, the laws in question might be a bit different, but the result would work out to be the same.
That’s something none of us should tolerate.
Let’s all hope the Ohio court sees this as well and rules accordingly. After all, the outcome might have an impact on all of us.