The panel reversed the district courts dismissal of claims brought against the County of Hawaii, dismissed plaintiffs appeal as to the State of Hawaii, and remanded, in plaintiffs 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging that the denial of his application for a handgun license violated his Second Amendment right to carry a loaded firearm in public for self-defense.
The panel acknowledged that while the concealed carry of firearms categorically falls outside Second Amendment, it was satisfied that the Second Amendment encompasses a right to carry a firearm openly in public for self-defense. Analyzing the text of the Second Amendment and reviewing the relevant history, including founding-era treatises and nineteenth century case law, the panel stated that it was unpersuaded by the Countys and the States argument that the Second Amendment only has force within the home. The panel stated that once identified as an individual right focused on self-defense, the right to bear arms must guarantee some right to self-defense in public.
But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense. We would thus flout the Constitution if we were to hold that, in regulating the manner of bearing arms, the authority of [the State] has no other limit than its own discretion. Reid, 1 Ala. at 616. While many respectable scholars and activists might find virtue in a firearms-carry regime that restricts the right to a privileged few, the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. Heller, 554 U.S. at 636.