It is an unfortunate fact that, in today’s heated political climate and in the wake of terrible tragedies, an argument can be made that our rights to keep and bear arms are under assault. At The Law Center P.C., we take your rights seriously. We firmly believe in the ability to defend yourself against potential harm from others in exercise of your constitutional rights — and we will protect you in court if the government seeks to inappropriately infringe on your rights.
A week after the tragic shooting spree in an Aurora movie theater in 2012, our client, Jim Mapes, entered a movie theater like he always did. Ready to enjoy a film and wary of what had happened just days before, Mr. Mapes entered the movie theater exercising his lawful right to arms.
Employees at the Cinebarre movie theater in Thornton called police after they saw a gun strapped to Mapes’ waist, prompting law enforcement to evacuate nine theaters as a precaution. Mr. Mapes was subsequently arrested on wrongful charges of “displaying a firearm in a calculating and dangerous fashion.”
The Law Center P.C. attorney and gun rights advocate Robert B. Wareham knew right away that the charges were without basis. Defending his client, Mr. Wareham persuasively argued that the police had wrongfully arrested Mr. Mapes, and effectively used the news media to deliver this message.
The city of Thornton apparently got the message and dismissed all municipal charges against Mr. Mapes. When the Thornton P.D. referred the matter to the Adams County District Attorney for possible state charges, the District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges, finding that Mr. Mapes violated no state laws.
Mr. Mapes’ detention and subsequent arrest infringed on his civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983, according to Wareham. The Law Center P.C. pursued a claim against the city of Thornton in U.S. District Court, and the city paid the largest settlement known to date in Colorado for such an infringement.
In 1794, the United States Congress and the states ratified the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, affirming the people’s right to bear arms. In two seminal, recent cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has verified this inherent right guaranteed in the Constitution.
On Friday, January 4, 2013, a mother in Loganville, Georgia, was startled when she heard repeated knocks on her door that clearly were not from a solicitor.
Using a crowbar, Paul Ali Slater broke into the home, intruding on the peace and fun of the mother and her two small children. As per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, she proceeded to call her husband out of concern for their safety.
“Get the kids and hide,” he told his wife. As he dialed 911, his 37-year-old spouse, who works from home, collected the children and hid with them in a crawlspace adjoining her office. By that time, the intruder had forced his way into the three-story residence on Henderson Ridge Drive with a crowbar, authorities said. He allegedly rummaged through the home, eventually working his way up to the attic office.
“He opens the closet door and finds himself staring down the barrel of a .38 revolver,” said Walton County Sheriff Joe Chapman, who relayed the woman’s narrative to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He asked that her name be withheld.
The woman fired six bullets, five of which hit Paul Ali Slater in the face and neck area, Chapman said. But Slater was still conscious. “The guy’s face down, crying,” the sheriff said. The woman told him to stay down or she’d shoot again. Slater, unaware that she had emptied her chamber, did so as the mother and her children ran to a neighbor’s house.
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court examined “whether provisions of the D.C. Code generally barring the registration of handguns, prohibiting carrying a pistol without a license, and requiring all lawful firearms to be kept unloaded and either disassembled or trigger locked violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes” in District of Columbia v. Heller .
The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The court based its holding on the text of the Second Amendment, as well as applicable language in state constitutions adopted soon after the Second Amendment.
The question still remained, however, whether or not the right to keep and bear arms applied to the states. In 2009, the Supreme Court took on the question of whether or not the Second Amendment applies to the states “because it is incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment Privileges and Immunities or Due Process clauses and thereby made applicable to the states.” In the case known as McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court ruled that:
The Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense applicable to the states. With Justice Samuel A. Alito writing for the majority, the court reasoned that rights that are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty” or that are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” are appropriately applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The court recognized in Heller that the right to self-defense was one such “fundamental” and “deeply rooted” right. The court reasoned that because of its holding in Heller, the Second Amendment applied to the states.
Most recently, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Michael Moore v. Lisa Madigan, considered whether “Illinois statutes that completely ban the carrying of handguns for self-defense are ‘inconsistent with the Second Amendment.’” In its decision — published on December 11, 2012 — the court concluded, in part:
The Second Amendment states in its entirety that “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (emphasis added). The right to “bear” as distinct from the right to “keep” arms is unlikely to refer to the home. To speak of “bearing” arms within one’s home would at all times have been an awkward usage. A right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home.
Although legal action regarding the Second Amendment continues, the Supreme Court has unquestionably affirmed the right to keep and bear arms. If you have legal questions or require assistance with a legal matter, no law firm in the Denver metro area is better suited to assist than The Law Center P.C. Call 303-991-5280 today or fill out our online contact form.
Special Counsel Robert B. Wareham is a recognized expert in firearms law. A former California law enforcement officer himself, Mr. Wareham has owned handguns for self-defense since he was 18 and carries one on a daily basis. He is a firm believer in the right to carry as a fundamental tenet of American liberty.
At The Law Center P.C., our staff brings years of legal experience to the table with every case we take on. In the area of firearms law, our attorneys can:
In addition, please feel free to make full use of the additional resources below to exercise and protect your constitutional right to keep and bear arms.