Gun rights legal battle shifts to North Carolina

Represented by Alan Gura, GRNC joins suit challenging gun restrictions in NC “state of emergency” law

Following is the GRNC release issued by PR Newswire on the day after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of “incorporating” Second Amendment scrutiny of gun laws upon states.

RALEIGH, NC – Grass Roots North Carolina* has joined Michael Bateman, Virgil Green, Forrest Minges, Jr., and the Second Amendment Foundation in a lawsuit against the state’s emergency powers gun ban.

Named in the suit are North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue; Reuben Young, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety; Stokes County and the City of King.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the official title is Bateman et al v. Perdue et al, Case No. 5:10-cv-265. It contends that state statutes forbidding carrying of firearms and ammunition during declared states of emergency, as well as laws enabling government officials to prohibit purchase, sale and possession of firearms and ammunition are unconstitutional because they forbid the exercise of Second Amendment rights as affirmed by Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. Chicago.

Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Alan Gura, who won the recent McDonald v. Chicago Second Amendment case and the landmark D.C. v. Heller case preceding it. Local counsel includes Andrew Tripp and Kearns Davis of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLC.

Building on the McDonald decision, under which “incorporation” of the Second Amendment will result in additional scrutiny of state gun laws, the latest suit centers on North Carolina’s “state of emergency” laws, under which local and state governments can curtail the right to bear arms by making it “unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area: (1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or (2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.” [§ 14-288.7(a)]

On February 5, 2010, Stokes County and the City of King made national media by declaring a state of emergency in response to a pending snow storm and posting notices prohibiting not only carriage, but the sale of firearms and ammunition. The measure was widely denounced as an abridgment of citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.

Noting the frequency of weather events such as hurricanes in North Carolina and listing twelve executive orders declaring states of emergency, Gura’s complaint says:

“States of emergency are frequently declared in North Carolina. Since September 1, 2004, the Governors of North Carolina have declared at least a dozen states of emergency, usually encompassing the entire state.”

Building upon the SCOTUS decision in D.C. v. Heller, in which the Court ruled the Second Amendment does, in fact, reinforce an individual right to arms, the latest Gura suit argues:

“North Carolina Gen. Stat. §§ 14-288.12(b)(4), 14-288.13(b), 14-288.14(a), and 14-288.15(d), to the extent they enable government officials to prohibit the purchase, sale, and possession of firearms and ammunition, are unconstitutional in that the forbid the exercise of Second Amendment rights, damaging plaintiffs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to permanent injunctive relief against their enforcement.”