Another New Puerto Rico Second Amendment (and Commonwealth Gun Law) Case

Reader Antonio A. Hernández Almodóvar passed along another Puerto Rico Second Amendment case, this one a trial court decision in Irizarry v. Policia de Puerto Rico (May 18, 2011) (thanks to commenter BGold for the compressed PDF). Rick Nemcik Cruz kindly provided an English-language summary:

Thank you very much for keeping me informed. The partial judgment is in agreement with the Court of Appeals Decision in Nido Lanausse (which has no precedential value [– intermediate Appellate Court opinions here have persuasive value, but are not binding beyond the parties]). An injunction was issued against the Puerto Rico Police to stop some of the most egregious widespread abuses by the Firearms Bureau, premised on the notion that firearms ownership is a privilege granted by the state, not a right. The problems have been:

1. Police investigators seizing privately owned firearms without any prior judicial order or probable cause and then failing to give the citizen a hearing required by statute. They simply took the firearms and then did nothing.

2. Intrusive inspections by the police in the homes of firearms license holders to verify security measures; requiring license holders to provide updated versions of the same documents they provided at the time they applied for the license, including, e.g. a certification of filing an income tax return for the last 5 years, certification of no child support debt, etc.; Intrusive investigations by police of the character and finances of firearms owners by interviewing neighbors and business associates. The police often, but not always, mentioned that the person investigated has firearms in his home or has a CCW. There are no standards for the investigations or inspections and no uniformity in practice.

3. Intrusive frequent and unannounced inspections by police of gun shops and gunsmiths (“armeros”).

The Court found that these practices do not comply with either the spirit or the letter of the PR Firearms Statute and granted specific relief as well as making general pronouncements to educate the Police. It agreed that Firearms ownership is a fundamental right, not a privilege, but read McDonald to say that the right is more important as applied to the home. The court did not address the constitutionality of the Statutory requirements for a firearms license. As this is only a partial judgment, it appears that a decision in this area is likely…. I understand that the Federacion challenged the statute as invalid on its face as well as its application to the particular parties. My opinion is that the partial judgment was issued to grant relief to the parties ASAP. That allows the Court more time to address the constitutionality of the Statute on its face. I think that a further judgment is procedurally required to dispose of the remaining issues — even if it ducks the issues.