Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ninth Circuit strikes down California law restricting concealed weapons carry in Peruta v San Diego

San Diego, Calif., February 13, 2014 — California must allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, a federal appeals court ruled, striking down the core of the state’s permit system for handguns. In a 2-1 decision issued on February 13th, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “San Diego County violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment by requiring residents to show ‘good cause’” before being allowed “to obtain a concealed carry permit.”

California has long had some of the nation’s strongest restrictions on gun ownership, and, according to the court, is one of only eight states that allow local governments to deny concealed-weapons permits. State law requires applicants to demonstrate good cause, as well as good moral character, to carry concealed handguns, while leaving the permit process up to each city and county. The court noted that the state did not accept the desire to be able to defend oneself as sufficient to demonstrate “good cause”.

California’s law was challenged by the National Rifle and Pistol Foundation (NRPF) and individuals who challenged the San Diego County system. C.D. Michael, lawyer for the NRPF, said “The right to self-defense doesn’t end at your threshold.”
The court agreed, ruling that the right to keep and bear arms is, in and of itself, a sufficient cause for bearing arms for self-defense both inside and outside of the home. Judge O’Scannlain’s majority opinion emphasized “the right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable arm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense.” The courts said the Second Amendment must be read as including “the right to carry weapons outside the home” because “the risk of armed confrontation” is in no way limited to one’s home, citing the examples of “a woman toting a small handgun in her purse as she walks through a dangerous neighborhood or a night-shift worker carrying a handgun in his coat as he travels to and from his job site.”

This author previously wrote a two-part series on the Second Amendment extending outside of one’s home based on Supreme Court’s 2008, D.C v Heller ruling. In the ruling, the high court says:
The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
As previously noted, the Supreme Courts ruling says “for lawful purposes”, plural, and then says “such as self-defense within the home.” This means that self-defense within the home is one of several lawful purposes, not the sole lawful purpose for which the right to keep and bear arms is protected. Further, the Court explicitly mentions several other lawful purposes in Heller, including hunting, resisting tyranny from the government, repelling an invasion, suppressing an insurrection, in addition to self-defense. Hunting, resisting tyranny, repelling an invasion, and suppressing insurrection all require one to be outside of the home. And as is covered in part two of the series, the language used in Heller in no way suggests that self-defense itself would be confined to the home.

The Supreme Court wrote in Heller that people at the time of ratification understood the Second Amendment as protecting “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation” and that “Americans understood the “right of self-preservation” as permitting a citizen to “repel force by force” when “the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury” (p.21). Further, Heller reaffirms the court’s prior definition of “bear arms” in Muscarello v. United States, that “surely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment indicates: wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person” (p.10).

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is in line with this analysis of what the Supreme Court has already clearly stated in Heller, as well as Muscarello and MacDonald v Chicago. Citing Heller, the Ninth Circuit’s judgment states: “Second Amendment codified a pre-exisiting, individual right to keep and bear arms and that that central component of the right is self-defense” (p.6). The Ninth Circuit further states “…people are more sensibly said to bear Arms in nondomestic settings” (p.16). Citing McDonald v Chicago, the Ninth Circuit notes that: “self-defense, recognized since ancient times as a basic right, is the central component of the Second Amendment… consequently, that right restricted not only the Federal government but under the Fourteeth Amendment, also the states” (p.7). Therefore, California’s law was stricken.

The Ninth Circuit ruling is a departure from other federal appeals courts that have upheld similar laws in New York, New Jersey and Maryland. But the decision concurs with an appellate court that struck down Illinois’ absolute ban on concealed weapons in public. The split among appellate circuits increases the prospect that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue. If that happens, gun rights activists can expect the Ninth Circuit court’s ruling to be upheld, since it is built upon multiple – and several recent – Supreme Court rulings.

By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell TowersThe Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.

Follow Me on Twitter:  

Follow Me on Facebook:

This article also appears on The Brenner Brief. (Original publication February 20, 2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment