Federal Appeals Court: There Is No Second Amendment Right To A Concealed Firearm

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which included a Reagan and a George W. Bush appointee, held unanimously on Friday that the Second Amendment does not protect a right to carry a concealed firearm:

[T]he Heller opinion notes that, “[l]ike most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” As an example of the limited nature of the Second Amendment right to keep and carry arms, the Court observed that “the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues.” And the Court stressed that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions.”

There can be little doubt that bans on the concealed carrying of firearms are longstanding. In Heller, the Supreme Court cited several early cases in support of the statement that most nineteenth century courts approved of such prohibitions. We note, however, that this view was not unanimous. Nevertheless, “[m]ost states enacted laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons” in the nineteenth century.

It should be noted that the court left open the question of whether a concealed carry ban is permitted in a jurisdiction that also bans open carry of firearms. Nevertheless, this decision is a reminder that, despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller expanding the scope of the Second Amendment, states and the federal government retain broad leeway to enact many gun safety laws.