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Federal judge rules immigrants have same gun carrying rights as citizens

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of New Mexico [official website] ruled Monday that the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause mandates that legally residing immigrants be afforded the same rights to obtain a concealed-carry weapon permit as citizens. Judge M. Christina Armijo held [Washington Times report] that there was no evidence showing that granting permits to legal immigrants is more dangerous than granting them to citizens and that the state had provided no support for its contention that its compelling interest in public safety was supported by the law's citizenship requirement. The suit was brought by John Jackson, an Australian immigrant in conjunction with the Second Amendment Foundation [advocacy website]. Attorneys for the state argued that the classification did not discriminate, but that even if it did the discrimination was reasonable based on the difficulty of obtaining background information on immigrants from their home countries, an argument the court rejected. The ruling granted a permanent injunction against enforcement of the law. The legal issues raised are in light of the Supreme Court's determination that the rights provided by the Second Amendment are personal rights, but federal courts have disagreed over whether the afforded protections apply only within ones home or to actions in public, such as carrying a concealed weapon.

Second Amendment rights are a hotly contested [JURIST op-ed] political issue in the US, as is the authority of federal and state governments to restrict the right or to place conditions upon its exercise. In February the Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] to hear three gun rights cases without issuing an opinion. Earlier that month the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] overturned [JURIST report] a California statute requiring a showing of "good cause" to obtain a concealed carry permit, holding that such restrictions undermine the constitutional significance of the right granted by the Second Amendment. Conversely, a district court in New York in January upheld [JURIST report] the New York SAFE Act, one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, as constitutional, with the exception of a limitation mandating that no firearm be loaded with more than seven rounds at a given time. In September the Illinois Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a state law saying that by practical effect it placed a ban on carrying guns outside of the home in violation of the Second Amendment, agreeing with case law precedent promulgated by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website].

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