Bateman et al v. Perdue et al was the first case to be filed after the Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment to the states with its decision in the McDonald case. Bateman challenges North Carolina’s emergency powers law which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to transport or possess a firearm off your own premises. As Alan Gura noted in his complaint, North Carolina is often hit by hurricanes.
As of 11am on Thursday, the National Hurricane Center estimates that Hurricane Earl is approximately 300 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It is a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph near the eye of the storm. Even if the eye of the storm doesn’t make landfall, the outer bands of the storm will have hurricane force winds and these will hit sometime this evening or in the early morning hours of Friday.
Governor Perdue issued Executive Order No. 62, “Proclamation of a State of Emergency by the Governor of the State of North Carolina Due to Hurricane Earl” on Wednesday, September 1st. The order is effective immediately and could last for up to 30 days. The proclamation declares a state of emergency exists. Section 3 delegates her power by Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the NC General Statues to the Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety “to such further action as is necessary to promote and secure the safety of populace in North Carolina.” The Executive Order does not specify that it is limited to certain eastern North Carolina counties such as Dare and Hyde.
NC Gen. Statues Section 14-288-1.10 defines a State of Emergency as follows:
The condition that exists whenever, during times of public crisis, disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency, public safety authorities are unable to maintain public order or afford adequate protection for lives or property, or whenever the occurrence of any such condition is imminent.
NC Gen. Statues Section 14-288-7 bans transportation and off-premises possession of “dangerous weapons”:
Transporting dangerous weapon or substance during emergency; possessing
off premises; exceptions.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to transport
or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area:
(1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or
(2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.
(b) This section does not apply to persons exempted from the provisions of G.S. 14-269
with respect to any activities lawfully engaged in while carrying out their duties.
(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 1
misdemeanor. (1969, c. 869, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 192; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)
G.S. 14-269 deals with the carrying of concealed weapons. The only exemptions it provides to those “carrying out their duties” involve law enforcement and military personnel. The holder of a NC Concealed Handgun Permit does not have “duties” and therefore could not be considered an “exempted person” under G.S. 14-288-7.
G.S. 14-288-7 makes no exemptions for recreational shooting, it makes no exemptions for hunting, and it makes no exemption for concealed carry permit holders. If you possess or transport a firearm off your premises during the state of emergency, you will have committed an offense that the state considers a Class 1 misdemeanor. It does not matter that you live in an area that has received no rain, no wind, and no damage from Hurricane Earl.
I predict that on Saturday at noon, unless the state of emergency is lifted, there will be widespread lawlessness occurring across the state of North Carolina as that is the opening of dove season. Furthermore, I understand from another message board that the Louis Awerbuck Tactical Carbine class begins on Saturday in Durham at the Durham Pistol and Rifle Club. One wonders if North Carolina will enforce its own laws with the same rigorousness that Chicago seems to have enforced their gun ban. That is, rarely, if ever. If they do attempt to enforce it, I doubt that there will be enough jail space to hold all of the scofflaws.
UPDATE: The NC Wildlife Resources Commission released this tonight:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dove Season Opens as Scheduled on Sept. 4
RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 2, 2010) – Despite North Carolina’s current state of emergency, dove season will open as scheduled at noon on Sept. 4.
After Gov. Perdue declared a state of emergency on Wednesday due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Earl, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission received numerous calls from the public asking if dove hunting will be allowed beginning this weekend. The Governor’s Office has informed the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission that nothing in the current emergency declaration, Executive Order 62, invokes any provision of law that would prohibit lawful hunting activities, including transporting a firearm to and from a hunting location (subject to local emergency ordinances to the contrary). Hunters in coastal areas should stay tuned to local media for the latest updates on Hurricane Earl and related emergency conditions that could affect the safety of themselves or others.
For more information on hunting, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
While the Governor’s Office states that nothing in the emergency declaration invokes any provision of the law that would prohibit hunting or transportation of a firearm to and from the dove fields, that is not how the law reads. The law does not say it is at the Governor’s discretion to invoke or not invoke a prohibition on the transport or possession of a firearm off-premises. I will note that the Governor’s Office gives themselves some wiggle room by saying “subject to local emergency ordinances to the contrary.”
It is obvious to me that they are starting to feel some heat. Now if the General Assembly would just get off its duff and do away with the ban totally we wouldn’t be in this Twilight Zone situation.
UPDATE II: Grass Roots North Carolina, one of the organizational plaintiffs in Bateman et al v. Perdue et al, released this statement tonight. It looks like their legal counsel agrees with my interpretation of the law.
GRNC Alert 09-02-10:
NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR LIES ABOUT STATE GUN BAN
State of emergency order makes criminals of concealed handgun
permit-holders, sport shooters and hunters…
“Even if EO 62 were worded…to expressly permit the possession of
firearms, the governor has no constitutional or statutory authority to
suspend the effect or enforcement of a valid NC criminal law.”
The State of Emergency order issued by Governor Beverly Perdue in
response to Hurricane Earl makes carrying a firearm outside one’s home
or place of business a Class I misdemeanor. Beyond law enforcement and
the military there are no exceptions: Not for hunters, sport shooters
or concealed handgun permit-holders.
Worse, with the legislature out of session, there is no immediate way
to address the crisis. As NC gun owners are aware, GRNC is among
plaintiffs on a lawsuit against the State of Emergency law, arguing
that it violates the Second Amendment, but legal redress is months, if
not years away.
Gov. Perdue’s office has been issuing various denials to input about
the gun ban implications of the SoE, but the most blatant misstatement
“Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor. After checking
with legal counsel, we are pleased to inform you that THE CURRENT
STATE OF EMERGENCY WAS WRITTEN IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE RIGHTS OF NC GUN
OWNERS ARE NOT INFRINGED UPON. . However, local
authorities still have the authority to establish states of emergency
within their jurisdictions that may impact your right to carry
Office of the Governor Bev Perdue
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
1-800-662-7952 (for NC residents only)
From GRNC legal counsel Ed Green:
“On Sept. 1, 2010, Governor Perdue issued Executive Order No. 62
declaring “that a state of emergency exists in the State due to the
approach of Hurricane Earl.” Nothing in EO 62 mentions gun owners or
the possession of guns in any way. Nothing in EO 62 purports to
suspend the operation of any NC law.
“NCGS § 14-288.7 clearly and unambiguously forbids the possession of
any firearm off one’s premises during any declared State of Emergency,
with exceptions only for law enforcement and military in the course of
their duties. Under NC law, whenever a State of Emergency is declared,
no citizen may possess any gun outside of their home.
“Even if EO 62 were worded (or amended) to expressly permit the
possession of firearms, the governor has no constitutional or
statutory authority to suspend the effect or enforcement of a valid NC
criminal law. Once she declared a State of Emergency, Gov. Perdue
legally disarmed all NC civilians outside their own homes, including
the thousands of otherwise legally licensed hunters expected to take
to the fields for the opening of Dove season at noon Saturday.”
UPDATE III: A good article by Paul Valone in the Examiner on this. Paul is the president of Grass Roots NC and is the Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner.