Can Green Lantern Carry a Gun?

After Hal Jordan and Sinestro (who is temporarily made a Green Lantern again) seemingly die after a fight with Black Hand their combined Green Lantern ring seeks out a new bearer: it finds Simon Baz.

Baz however is busy… being interrogated by the FBI. Turns out he was accidentally involved in a car bombing (long story, see the events of Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army for the whole thing).

Simon goes on to prove himself a Green Lantern in his own right and takes over as GL of sector 2814 (Earth). Among his other distinctions he is known as the only Green Lantern to carry a gun. Simon has taken flack about his gun from everyone from Hal to Kilowog, but the issue was brought to a head when he met Batman (who’s stance on guns is well known) in the recent Green Lantern/Batman crossover.

Simon and his partner Jessica Cruz (also a Green Lantern) are called to Gotham City to help the caped crusader solve a rash of criminal activity caused by fear. No more spoilers, check out Green Lanterns #16 and 17 for the whole story. Suffice to say that while in Gotham Simon meets Commissioner Jim Gordon.

Gordon is less than pleased to see Simon’s gun and tells him he can only carry it in Gotham with an open carry license. While there is no federal law that restricts open carrying of handguns several states have restricted the ability to open carry handguns without a permit or banned the practice all together. Being a fictional city there’s never been a clear indication of which state Gotham City is in, however there seem to be two front runners: New Jersey according to several sources in the comics, or Illinois according to artist Neil Adams who says the city is based on Chicago. Both states restrict the carrying of firearms with proper licensing, so Gordon’s line “Not unless it [the gun] comes with an open carry license from the Gotham City Registrar”, doesn’t narrow things down. See N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2C:58-4(a) for permitting requirements in NJ and 430 ILCS 66 for requirements in Il. Either way it seems Simon is in violation.

However, we don’t need to guess at what state Gotham is in since we know there are two real world places that Simon spends time in. He lives in Dearborn, Michigan and frequently visits his partner Jessica Cruz at her home outside of Portland, Oregon. Michigan’s open carry law is complicated by the release of Michigan State Police Legal Update No. 86, which seems to contradict Section 28.422 of Michigan’s laws and rectifying these two is well beyond the scope of this blog post. Plus I live in Oregon and until Peter Parker moves back here we only get this one comic book hero to look at with our state laws so… that’s what we’re going to do.

Oregon’s gun laws are found in ORS section 166, specifically 166.250 Unlawful Possession of Firearms. So long as a person is over 18 and the firearm is not concealed it is lawful to carry. Meaning Simon is ok to strap his pistol to his hip and visit Jessica for pancakes, right? Well, not exactly. When we are first introduced to Simon Baz in Green Lantern v.5 #0 we find out he’s got a history of illegal street racing and stealing cars. We never get an answer as to if Simon has ever been convicted before (since he’s being held in the DC universe’s version of Guantanamo there are some other concerns and the GL ring busts him out before we get too far into the case), but it strongly implied throughout the series that he has a criminal record. What we do know is that if he has a record it comes either from the street racing accident that results in his brother-in-law’s coma or for stealing cars. Stealing cars is a felony offense in Michigan and street racing that results in a serious injury would almost certainly be charged as felony reckless driving. If Simon has a felony record then he would be violating ORS 166.270 Possession of Weapons by Certain Felons, a class C felony when involving a firearm. So Simon would be better off leaving his gun at home.

Oddly, although Simon would likely be prohibited from wearing a pistol on his hip in most places he frequents (assuming that his felony record is more than just a suggestion), weapon laws are tied to specific terms like firearm or knife. So he’d be fine to keep his Power Ring which, while it may be the most powerful weapon in the DC Universe, is not a weapon by most legal definitions.

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Jordon is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law. He has spent his career practicing criminal defense with Huppert Law Office before moving to the public defender’s office. Jordon was hired to take on the Treatment Court Dockets and also represents the youth in the RAP Court, Juvenile Drug Treatment Court. Jordon has been twice named to the Super Lawyer’s Rising Stars List.

Jordon is also a life long sci-fi and comic book fan, having once told an interviewer that he wanted to be a superhero when he finished law school. His favorite comic book hero is Spider-man and he credits Star Wars with defining large parts of his early life and the Legend of Zelda for giving him the problem solving skills that make him such a good lawyer.