Permit requirements aren’t just annoying. They’re unconstitutional. That’s what vehement gun rights activists will tell you, including the myriad attorneys that fill their ranks. If the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, then what is a permitting requirement but an infringement?
In fact, with the current Second Amendment before the United States Supreme Court, many are hoping that permitting requirements are struck down in totality. However, a similar case failed to yield those results.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state law requiring individuals to have a permit to carry a handgun in public is constitutional and does not violate the Second Amendment.
The ruling comes in the case of a man who was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. Nathan Hatch was arrested in 2018 after Metropolitan Airport Commission police stopped to help him after his truck broke down. He told officers he had a gun in the back seat and did not have a permit, and officers found a loaded pistol.
Hatch was convicted of a gross misdemeanor. On appeal, he tried to strike down the state’s permit-to-carry statute, arguing it violated his right to bear arms and failed to survive strict scrutiny because it was not narrowly tailored to advance the state’s interests.
The Supreme Court disagreed.
“Considering the undisputed compelling governmental interest in ensuring public safety and the narrowly tailored provisions of the statute to achieve that interest, we conclude that the permit-to-carry statute withstands strict scrutiny,” the justices ruled. “We therefore hold that the permit-to-carry statute does not violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Does this bode poorly for the New York case the US Supreme Court will decide on?
First, this case was about a completely different question than the New York case. This one asked whether permits were constitutional. The case before SCOTUS, though, asks whether “may issue” is constitutional. They’re related, sure, but different.
For another, this is a state supreme court with completely different judges. In the case of Minnesota, most have been appointed by Democratic governors. It’s likely their potential to reach a decision like this played a factor in their appointment in the first place, meaning the deck was stacked for a case like this.
Frankly, the idea that the permitting requirement has “undisputed” compelling interest for the government isn’t accurate at all, anyway.
However, this shouldn’t be overly surprising for anyone. Minnesota has had a bit leftward lean for a little while now. Not completely left-leaning, but just a bit.
So, a somewhat left-leaning state with a left-leaning court is, of course, going to say a permit requirement is perfectly constitutional. Hell, I fully expect the right-leaning US Supreme Court to claim they’re legal, only to mandate “shall issue” and put an end to “may issue.” The idea a Democrat-heavy court would rule similarly shouldn’t shock anyone.
Yet, that doesn’t make it right. The text of the Second Amendment makes it quite plain, yet here we are. There’s absolutely no reason why this should be a thing, but it is. More than that, it’ll continue to be a thing for some time to come. Don’t expect to see it go any differently in our lifetimes.
Yeah, I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong, actually. I’m just not going to hold my breath on it.