Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber | Legislature reaches too far with ‘open carry’ ban
The state House of Representatives recently passed Senate Bill 5038, which would ban the open carry of firearms near permitted rallies, on the Capitol Campus grounds, and in other state legislative locations.
I voted against this legislation that clearly violates the Second Amendment. As a legislator I have continued to be a champion for our Second Amendment right – the right that protects all other rights, as it is often said.
When the bill came before us in the House, the ambiguity of the proposal was startling. The ban on open carry around permitted rallies started at 250 feet. But measured from where? The center of the rally? The stage? Does each rally participant have an invisible 250-foot barrier around them that bans open carry?
The bill was amended to say within 250 feet of the “perimeter” of a rally. But even that is ambiguous and difficult to enforce. Does this mean your place of business, home or highway could be included in that imaginary 250-foot space?
The bill was also amended to clarify that these restrictions do not apply to those with concealed pistol permits. These individuals have already been fingerprinted and have had extensive background checks.
We tried to have a conversation about political groups that show up at rallies with baseball bats, shields, bike chains, masks, helmets, pepper spray, and more. Yet, our questions were ignored, the conversation ended, and our citizens who value their Second Amendment rights were targeted.
If the government is willing to make “constitutional free zones” does that mean someone won't be able to voice their First Amendment right at a rally they don't agree with. What if a rally comes to you, your place of business or the streets you drive on? We are setting a dangerous precedent.
The current political climate is to “defund the police,” let violent criminals go free, allow felons to vote before serving their sentences, and to de-arm law enforcement. All actions that make us and our communities and families less safe.
We have laws on the books now to protect people from brandishing a weapon to intimidate or to threaten. We need to use the laws we have, not attack law abiding citizens with new legislation punishable by one year in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
The state Supreme Court recently ruled against the state's felony drug possession law, making it legal to possess (but not use) heroin, meth, fentanyl, and other hardcore drugs. In its ruling the court said the state cannot police “passive nonconduct.” In other words, just because someone had drugs on them, doesn't mean law enforcement can assume the individual has the intent to use the drugs.
And yet if someone exercises their constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights by open carrying, the state is expected to police that “passive nonconduct” and assume the worst?
It makes no sense.
The bill passed on party lines, 57-40. However, I believe this legislation is unconstitutional and will be challenged in the courts.
The fact that this legislation may not stand up to a constitutional legal challenge is of little consolation. The Legislature has a duty and responsibility to protect and honor our state and federal constitutions. Senate Bill 5038 does neither.
(Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, serves as the House Republican Floor Leader.)