2018] ARMING PUBLIC PROTESTS 225
near a crowd of protesters but no one was injured as a result.5 At the protest,
the day’s sole fatality occurred as a result of a possible vehicular homicide.6
Nevertheless, the open and visible presence of firearms during such a large
and contentious public protest alarmed many participant s, concerned public
officials, and may even have deterred law enforcement officers from
confronting certain protesters.7
Despite having many opportunities to do so, the Supreme Court has yet
to decide whether there is a Second Amend ment right to keep and bear arms
in public.8 In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court held that an individual
has a Second Amendment right to possess a firearms in the home for the
purpose of self-defense.9 The Court has also held that the individual right to
keep and bear arms applies against states and localities.10 The states have not
waited for a Supreme Court pronouncemen t on public carry rights. Nearly
every state now authorizes some form of a right to openly carry firearms in at
least some public places.11 In fact, only three states ban open carry outright.12
A few states ban the open carry of handguns, but not long guns (rifles and
shotguns), while a few states ban the open carry of long guns, but not
handguns.13 Several states require a license to open carry and many impose
other restrictions on the practice, such as limiting open carry in specified
places or during certain hours of the day. 14
5. Frances Robles, As White Nationalist in Charlottesville Fired, Police ‘Never Moved,’ N.Y. TIMES
(Aug. 25, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/us/charlottesville-protest -police.html
(discussing police reaction to armed protesters).
6. Jonah Engel B romwich & Alan Blinder, What We Know About James Alex Fields, Driver
Charged in Charlottesville Killing, N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 13, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/
13/us/james-alex-fields-charlottesvil le-driver-.html. Two polic e officers were also killed, w hen
their surveillance helicopter crashed. Matthew Haag, Death of 2 State Troopers Adds Another Layer of
Tragedy in Charlottesville, N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 14, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/
7. See Joe Heim, Charlottesville Response to White Supremacist Rally is Sharply Criticized in Report,
WASH. POST (Dec. 1, 2017), htt ps://www.washingtonpost.com/local/charlottesville-response-to-
770d9a3e_story.html (noti ng criticism that police did not respond to armed protesters); see also
Robles, supra note 5.
8. See, e.g., Adam Liptak, Suprem e Court Turns Down Case on Carrying Guns in Pu blic,
N.Y. TIMES (Jun. 26, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/us/politics/supreme-court-
9. Dis trict of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 628–29 (2008).
10. McDonald v. Ci ty of Chi., 561 U.S. 742, 766 (2010).
11. For a 50-state survey of current laws relating to the open and concealed carrying of
firearms, see Open Carry: State by State, GIFFORDS L. CTR. TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE, http://
lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/state-law/50-state-summaries/open-carry-state-by-state (last updated
Nov. 16, 2017).
12. See id. (California, Florida, and Illinois).
13. See id.