When winter storms slammed North Carolina in early 2010, Gov. Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency.
The city of King followed on Feb. 5 with its own declaration of emergency that included — as allowed by state law — a ban on the possession of alcohol and firearms except at a person’s own home.
A Stokes County man, two other people and two gun-rights organizations sued the state, King and Stokes County that summer, claiming that their rights under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution were violated. The amendment protects citizens’ right to bear arms.
Now, a federal court has agreed, ruling that state law can’t make a blanket ban that keeps the plaintiffs from carrying or buying guns and ammunition during an emergency.
“While the bans imposed … may be limited in duration, it cannot be overlooked that the statutes strip peaceable, law-abiding citizens of the right to arm themselves in defense of hearth and home, striking at the very core of the Second Amendment,” Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard wrote in his order.
The order, issued Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, stopped short of finding the state’s emergency gun-ban law unconstitutional on its very face, finding that the plaintiffs were “unable to demonstrate that there are no set of circumstances under which the emergency declaration statutes would be valid.”