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Thursday, April 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

2nd Amendment Applies to States, Court Rules

(CN) - The Second Amendment applies to the states via the 14th Amendment due-process clause, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday in an opinion that beat the U.S. Supreme Court to the punch on the same issue.

The High Court is to hear arguments later this year on the question of whether the Second Amendment applies to the states.

"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms from state interference through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment," the Washington Supreme Court wrote. "This right is necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty and fundamental to the American scheme of justice."

The case comes after 17-year-old Christopher Sieyes was convicted of unlawfully possessing a loaded semiautomatic handgun. He sued, claiming a Washington state law banning minors from carrying guns infringes on his right to bear arms as protected by both the U.S. and Washington Constitutions.

The court, however, sidestepped the question over whether minors enjoy the same right to bear arms as adults, adding that Sieyes "offers no convincing authority supporting his argument that Washington's limit on childhood firearms possession violates the United States or Washington Constitutions," the court wrote. "Accordingly, we keep our powder dry on this issue for another day."

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., in 2007, finding that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. But what remained left open and to be discussed later this year was the question of whether the Second Amendment applies to the states.

Concurring Washington State Supreme Court Judge Debra Stephens agreed with the result of the ruling, but called it premature.

"I would refrain from engaging in an extended exploration of the unsettled question of federal incorporation of the Second Amendment," Stephens wrote. "Restraint is particularly appropriate here because the very question is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

"I do not believe this is an instance where there is anything to be accomplished," she added, "particularly as our opinion is likely to be eclipsed before the ink it takes to print it is dry."

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