Attorney General Ken Paxton recently joined West Virginia’s amicus brief in Robinson v. United States along with Indiana, Michigan, and Utah in the United States Supreme Court to protect against unjustified frisk searches occurring on the suspicion that a citizen is armed. The basis for this search places a burden on the Second Amendment right to carry a firearm.
In 1968, Terry v. Ohio determined that a law enforcement officer may both stop and frisk an individual when “specific and articulable facts” lead an officer to reasonably believe criminal activity is occurring. This search is justifiable when the officer believes the detained individual “is armed and presently dangerous to the officer or others.” However, an en banc Fourth Circuit recently interpreted Terry to require only a reasonable suspicion that the individual is armed. This interpretation allows officers to justify a frisk search solely on the suspicion of possessing a weapon during a lawful stop, regardless whether there is a reasonable belief that the individual is dangerous.
“The Fourth Circuit interpretation places an unlawful burden on Second Amendment rights. The Constitution plainly guarantees law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms, whether through open or concealed carry,” said Attorney General Paxton. “We must ensure the Court continues to protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
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