Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Page 1


C.A. Rejects Second Amendment Challenge to ‘Dirk or Dagger’ Law


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Second Amendment does not bar the state from banning the carrying of concealed weapons in public places, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.

Div. Eight affirmed Frank Quinones’ conviction on charges of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and making criminal threats. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gail R. Feuer sentenced him to three years, eight months in prison, including a prior-prison-term enhancement.

The defendant argued on appeal that the dirk-or-dagger statute, which at the time of the crime was Penal Code Sec. 12020(a)(4), violates the “not unlimited” individual right to keep and bear arms, as found by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) 554 U.S. 570.  He claimed the statute is overbroad because it bans “a substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct.”

Prior Opinions

But Presiding Justice Tricia Bigelow, in an unpublished opinion for the Court of Appeal, cited five published Court of Appeal opinions upholding various statutes against Second Amendment challenges post-Heller.

A person’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense in the home does not encompass the right to carry a concealed dirk or dagger in public,” the jurist wrote. “Further, carrying a concealed dirk or dagger in public is not in the nature of a common use of dirk or dagger for lawful purposes. Unlike possession of a dirk or a dagger for protection within a home, carrying such an item concealed in public presents a threat to public safety. Heller expressly stated that the Second Amendment did not make unconstitutional any statutory proscriptions against the carrying of concealed weapons in public. “

She rejected the argument that the statute should be declared unconstitutional because it did not explicitly distinguish between possession in public and in private. The presiding justice explained that there was nothing in the text or history of the law suggesting that the Legislature intended to criminalize possession of a weapon in a person’s own home.

While Quinones claimed that he only armed himself for protection against a suspected burglar, Bigelow added, the act of which he was convicted was carrying the concealed weapon on a public street.

Vagueness Challenge

The jurist also swept aside Quinones’ vagueness challenge, based on language allowing a conviction for possessing an “instrument with or without a handguard …that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon.”

Even if the quoted language were insufficient to advise a person of ordinary intelligence what conduct was prohibited, Bigelow explained, Quinones, having been convicted of carrying “a knife that could inflict great bodily injury or death,” lacks standing to make the argument.

Attorneys on appeal were D. Inder Comar, by appointment, for the defendant and Deputy Attorneys General Lance E. Winters, Victoria B. Wilson, and Chung L. Mar for the state.

The case is People v. Quinones, B231775.


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