Court: No Right to Carry Concealed Weapons in Public

There is no constitutional right for the people to carry concealed firearms in public, an 11-judge federal appeals court ruled on challenges from San Diego and Yolo County Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, split 7-4, to uphold a ruling that members of the general public, who sought licenses to carry concealed firearms in public for self-defense, without “good cause,” had no right to carry the weapons.

California law generally recognize exceptions that allow “good cause” reasons to carry firearms for active or retire peace officers, guards or messengers for financial institutions, security guards, animal control officers and zookeepers, if they complete safety courses. The state’s prohibition also does not apply to licensed hunters or fishermen while engaged in the sport or to target ranges. Local sheriffs may also authorize “good cause” for people who are subject to verified threats or who have restraining orders.

“The United States Supreme Court unambiguously stated in 1897 that the protection of the Second Amendment does not extend to ‘the carrying of concealed weapons,’” wrote Judge William Fletcher for the majority.

“We therefore conclude that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms does not include, in any degree, the right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public,” he said.

The 11-judge en banc panel rejected Second Amendment and Fourteenth amendment arguments.  The case is almost certain to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawsuits were brought by Edward Peruta of San Diego County and Adam Richards of Yolo County. Both applied for licenses to carry concealed weapons for self-defense and both were denied as lacking “good cause.”

The majority opinion by Fletcher recounts in detail the history of firearms law and constitutional protections and its historic basis in English law.

In dissent, Judge Connie Callahan wrote, “The Second Amendment is not a ‘second-class’ constitutional guarantee.”  Although past Supreme Court opinions in 2008 and 2010 protected the right to bear arms for self-defense in the home, any fair reading of those opinions “compels the conclusion that the right to keep and bear arms extends beyond one’s front door.”

She was joined by Judges Barry Silverman, Carlos Bea and N.R. Smith.

San Diego and Yolo Challenges

The ruling does not affect people who have been granted licenses to carry concealed weapons for “good cause” such as people in jobs that put them at high risk, victims of violent crime or business owners who carry large sums of cash or valuables.

Peruta and Richards challenged their local county sheriffs’ policies for applying who qualified for a license.

But simply a fear for one’s safety is not considered good cause, the court said.

The majority also said it was not ruling on the question of whether the Second Amendment protects some ability to openly carry firearms in public.

In the majority with Fletcher were Judges Sidney Thomas, Harry Pregerson, Susan Graber, Margaret McKeown,  Richard Paez and John Owens.

Case: Peruta v. County of San Diego, No. 10-56971






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