In Peruta v. San Diego County, the Ninth Circuit struck down a San Diego County law that limited licenses to carry a concealed weapon to those who could show “good cause” for the need to defend themselves. Under the law, a generalized concern about one’s safety does not constitute good cause. In his 77-page opinion, Judge O’Scannlain ruled that the right to bear arms “could not rationally be limited to the home.” Thus, the right to have a gun for self-defense exists beyond one’s home and hearth. And, it added, such a right has always existed, since the Bill of Rights went into effect in 1791.
In it’s decent, the minority argued that courts have long held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful. The majority retorted that those rulings do not address situations where State law also prohibits openly carrying a firearm. The majority argued that the State cannot do both–ban openly carrying a firearm and severely restrict the right to carry a concealed weapon. The two prohibitions effectively “render the right itself useless California’s favoring concealed carry over open carry does not offend the Constitution, so long as it allows one of the two.”
Importantly, this ruling applies specifically to the San Diego County policy. Counties in California have differing rules on the issuance of concealed carry permits, some of which may not offend the Constitution. Further, the ruling did not affect State’s right to prohibit the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill or laws restricting the possession of firearms in sensitive places, e.g., schools or government buildings.
The Ninth Circuit panel opinion is likely not the last word on the issue. San Diego County has the option to seek review of the opinion, which was issued by a three-member judge panel, by a full Ninth Circuit panel (11-member judge panel) or to the US Supreme Court. Recently, the Supreme Court has declined to review many 2nd Amendment cases. However, this opinion, along with a 7th Circuit opinion, diverges from other Circuit court rulings creating what is called a circuit split. The existence of a circuit split enhances the chances that the Supreme Court will review the case if requested to do so.
As representatives of many gun-owners, Tully & Weiss will be following this case closely as it potentially moves through the appellate courts.