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The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to carry a gun openly in public, a federal appeals court ruled.
In Young v. State of Hawaii, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals joined five other federal circuit courts that have said the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun publicly for self-defense. The appeals court did not rule on concealed weapons.
With an increase in mass shootings, the rights of gun owners are more hotly debated than ever. The debate may finally make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Hawaii, George Young sued the state after authorities twice denied him a permit to carry a gun outside. In a split decision, the Ninth Circuit said the state was wrong.
"We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote. "But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense."
It is not the same for concealed weapons. In Peruta v. County of San Diego, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to carry concealed weapons.
The Supreme Court declined to hear that case last year. It has not taken up a major gun case since 2010.
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Judge Richard Clifton, who dissented in Young, said the majority went too far. He said the Second Amendment does not preclude reasonable licensing of guns outside the home.
Alan Beck, the plaintiff's lawyer in the case, told Reuters the open-carry issue would likely end up before the highest court.
"I think the Supreme Court is receptive to this," he said.