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Post-Rahimi update on UPF (Portland City Code)

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by: Ryan Scott • July 3, 2024 • no comments

A few months ago, in a blog post at this website, I argued that the Portland City Code prohibition on the open carry of loaded firearms was the statute most likely to fail in light of SCOTUS's Bruen opinion. Now that SCOTUS has dramatically walked back parts of Bruen in United States v. Rahimi, does that change my analysis?

No. There are two things to remember about the city code provision:

(1) it applies to the public generally and not those who may be dangerous

(2) as noted by Bruen, open carry was generally permitted at the time of the 2nd Amendment and often prohibitions of open carry were struck down as violations of the 2nd Amendment.

As for (1), in upholding the law in Rahimi, the Supreme Court noted that § 922(g)(8)(i) is a “focused regulation[],” not a “broad prohibitory regime as in Bruen." Id. at 15. Furthermore, unlike the regulation struck down in Bruen, Section 922(g)(8) does not "broadly restrict arms use by the public generally."

As for (2), see just this one example from Bruen, fn 16: "Beginning in 1813 with Kentucky, six States (five of which were in the South) enacted laws prohibiting the concealed carry of pistols by 1846. See 1813 Ky. Acts §1, p. 100; 1813 La. Acts p. 172; 1820 Ind. Acts p. 39; Ark. Rev. Stat. §13, p. 280 (1838); 1838 Va. Acts ch. 101, §1, p. 76; 1839 Ala. Acts no. 77, §1. During this period, Georgia enacted a law that appeared to prohibit both concealed and open carry, see 1837 Ga. Acts §§1, 4, p. 90, but the Georgia Supreme Court later held that the prohibi�tion could not extend to open carry consistent with the Second Amendment. See infra, at 45–46. Between 1846 and 1859, only one other State, Ohio, joined this group. 1859 Ohio Laws §1, p. 56. Tennessee, mean�while, enacted in 1821 a broader law that prohibited carrying, among other things, “belt or pocket pistols, either public or private,” except while traveling. 1821 Tenn. Acts ch. 13, §1, p. 15. And the Territory of Florida prohibited concealed carry during this same timeframe. See 1835 Terr. of Fla. Laws p. 423.

As noted, the Portland City Code prohibits open carry and it applies to anyone, either of which should be sufficient to strike the law down.

The constitutionality of the law has already been briefed and it waiting on oral argument at the Court of Appeals. There's just no reason not to file a constitutional challenge to the city code, even if, as is often the case, it's the least significant charge in the indictment.

And of course you want to file a motion to suppress, if the open carry is the reason (1) the gun was seized, (2) the reason your client was arrested, or (3) the reason your client was searched, and any of those things resulted in additional evidence.

One side note about felon in possession. Please, please, please make an as-applied argument when you can, putting on evidence that your client is not dangerous, not merely because of the non-violent nature of the underlying felony but also those aspects of your client's life that are consistent with non-dangerousness (e.g., length of time since conviction, employment, family, lack of restraining orders, even lack of traffic tickets to show how law-abiding they are). I already was on record stressing the importance of as-applied challenges, but there are parts of Rahimi (in particular Gorsuch's concurring opinion) that have reinforced my opinion quite a bit.