California gun control: AG fights concealed carry, Peruta Ruling

California gun control: AG fights concealed carry, Peruta Ruling

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Minuteman statue / Wikimedia Commons
Minuteman statue / Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2014 — On February 13, 2014, the California Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the practice of granting concealed carry permits to petitioning citizens only on the basis of need — so-called “may issue” permits — unconstitutional. It was a landmark case which gives Americans living in may-issue jurisdictions hope that they need no longer make a case for their right to bear arms.

May-issue jurisdictions in California, Maryland, and other states require an individual to show cause or need in order to procure a concealed carry license. A person who wants to carry a weapon has to justify it to the local government. It does not matter that it is their right under the Second Amendment to bear arms; the government decides who has the right carry a concealed firearm.

But not in California, and thanks to a petition filed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the issue may go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The circuit court’s decision to strike down may-issue may have national repercussions.

The court’s ruling came as a result of a suit brought against San Diego by Edward Peruta over the may-issue practices of the San Diego Sheriff’s Office. The panel of judges ruled 2-1 in favor of Peruta, and found that San Diego’s use of may-issue violated the Second Amendment.

The opinion penned by Justice Diarmuid O’Scannlain said in part, “The panel first held that a law-abiding citizen’s ability to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense fell within the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. Applying the analysis set forth in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the panel then held that it did not need to apply a particular standard of heightened scrutiny to the San Diego policy because the ‘good cause’ restriction amounted to a destruction of the Second Amendment right altogether. The panel concluded that San Diego County’s ‘good cause’ permitting requirement impermissibly infringed on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense.”

This is a tremendous victory for gun rights advocates in San Diego and throughout California, but if Attorney General Harris pushes the issue all the way to U.S. Supreme Court, it may be a game changer for the entire country.

Harris did not appreciate the decision as much as others did. In her petition to have the ruling overturned, the California Attorney General argued what she saw as the flaws in the ruling. Her argument highlights the contempt that officials in liberal states feel toward the right to bear arms.

Harris argues that the ruling “appears to forbid state or local authorities from conditioning the issuance of permits to carry a gun in public places, even in urban or residential areas, on any showing of cause or need beyond a bare assertion by the applicant of a desire to carry a gun for possible use in self-defense.”

That is the liberal approach to gun rights in a nutshell. People like Harris cannot fathom why any law abiding individual would want to carry a weapon for any other reason other than the simple desire to carry a weapon.

She continues, “the majority inappropriately discounts legislative policy judgments to which it should defer.”

The Ninth Circuit Court deferred to the Constitution and to federally established precedents, such as the Heller Decision. Those take precedence over state and local legislators who have made their life’s work the disarmament of the people.

Should the petition fail and the case be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, and if the lower court’s decision is affirmed, then jurisdictions which rely on may-issue for their conceal carry permits will find themselves in violation of the law. That is why Harris and other anti-gun politicians and groups are treading lightly here.

Shall-issue states are not knocking down the door of the Supreme Court to get this case heard. They are not all filing a joint appeal and providing legal assistance to California’s fight to keep may-issue. It might be better for them to keep this ruling contained in California. They have to tread carefully.

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