The Second Amendment Foundation brought suit on behalf of Felicity Veasey, an Australian citizen, for being denied the right to apply for a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. She is a permanent legal resident married to a US citizen living in Granville County. The suit sought to enjoin the enforcement of the state requirement that one must be a US citizen to obtain a CHP. The case was started in June 2014.
The ACLU and the Second Amendment Foundation have won a number of lawsuits challenging the denial of gun rights based on alienage. Between the two, they have won cases in Kentucky, South Dakota, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Massachusetts on behalf of permanent legal residents. Discrimination based upon alienage is considered constitutionally suspect and an regulation or law must be examined under strict scrutiny.
Another case was filed in March 2015 on behalf of Kristen Messmer of Wake County, a German citizen who is a permanent legal resident and who also sought a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. Her attorney was Camden Webb who also served as co-counsel in the Veasey case.
The cases, though not officially joined, were both heard by US District Court Judge Terrence Boyle of the Eastern District of NC. He granted a preliminary injunction in both cases on Thursday and the opinions were released on Friday afternoon. With the exception of the background of the plaintiffs, the wording in the opinions is virtually word for word the same.
After noting that permanent residents have many of the same constitutional rights as US citizens including their Second Amendment rights, Judge Boyle wrote:
No defendant has proffered a strong argument in support of limiting the concealed carry statute to citizens. No defendant objected to plaintiffs' characterization in court that resident aliens are allowed to possess firearms on their premises and are even allowed to carry firearms openly in North Carolina. In fact, the Sheriff stated in court that he agreed with plaintiffs that the law at issue in this case was unconstitutional. In light of other court rulings, the law in North Carolina, and defendants' postures in this case, plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits.Professor Eugene Volokh has also covered the Messmer case at the Volokh Conspiracy.
The Court further finds that in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm. The deprivation of a constitutional right, even if only briefly, constitutes irreparable harm.
The North Carolina General Assembly, if it were smart, would save the state some money and make the necessary corrections to state law. Judge Boyle issued a preliminary injunction and further hearings and filings would be needed for the permanent injunction.