California’s Strict Concealed-Gun Rules Restored by Courtby
Panel of 11 judges says no constitutional right to hidden guns
Ruling is loss for NRA’s attack on public-carry restrictions
A ruling with the potential to vastly expand the number of California residents permitted to carry concealed weapons in public was overturned by a federal appeals court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday set aside a three-judge panel’s 2014 ruling that San Diego County’s process for determining who qualifies for a permit to carry a concealed weapon violates the constitutional right to bear arms. The decision is a loss for gun rights advocates including the National Rifle Association who have attacked some of the nation’s strictest public-carry laws.
An 11-judge panel took up the case after California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked for reconsideration of the earlier panel’s ruling that any responsible, law-abiding citizen is entitled under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public for self-defense. The smaller panel found that San Diego County’s sheriff overstepped his authority when he concluded an applicant for a concealed weapon permit didn’t demonstrate “good cause” to carry a Colt 1911 .45 caliber pistol in public.
State regulations on the carrying of firearms in public have become a new battleground following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that struck down a District of Columbia law banning handguns in the home.
“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment -- whatever the scope of that protection may be -- simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” the majority wrote in Thursday’s 7-4 ruling.
The NRA said the ruling shows how out of touch the appeals court is with “mainstream Americans.”
“This decision will leave good people defenseless, as it completely ignores the fact that law-abiding Californians who reside in counties with hostile sheriffs will now have no means to carry a firearm outside the home for personal protection,” Chris W. Cox, head of the group’s lobbying arm, said in an e-mailed statement. “This flawed ruling underscores the importance of the 2016 election.”
Harris, a Democrat who is the front-runner for a U.S. Senate seat, was backed in court by several gun control groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety, whose advisory board includes former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.
Thursday’s ruling is in line with those by appeals courts in New York, Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia, that have upheld discretionary permitting.
The case is Peruta v. Gore, 10-56971, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).