Concealed carry in public not a Second Amendment right – court

© Kai Pfaffenbach
A federal appeals court has ruled that members of the public have no Second Amendment right to carry concealed weapons, and that California has the right to require cause beyond self-defense for issuing concealed carry permits.

Under California law, county sheriffs have the authority to establish and publish policies defining “good cause” to grant a concealed carry permit. Firearm owners in California’s San Diego and Yolo Counties argued that the policies, as published, violated their right to keep and bear arms as defined by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. The case is known as Peruta v. San Diego.

On Thursday, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs, writing that the Second Amendment did not apply to carrying firearms in public. Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas presided over the full-bench (en banc) 11-judge court, which overturned the 2014 decision by a smaller panel.

The history relevant to the Second Amendment and its incorporation by the Fourteenth Amendment “lead to the same conclusion: The right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment,” the court wrote in the majority decision.

“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 court said.  “Therefore, because the Second Amendment does not protect in any degree the right to carry concealed firearms in public, any prohibition or restriction a state may choose to impose on concealed carry — including a requirement of ‘good cause,’ however defined — is necessarily allowed by the Amendment.”

The court allowed California to intervene in appealing the 2014 verdict, after a sheriff in San Diego declined to pursue the appeal.

Four of the judges dissented with all or most parts of the decision, however. Judges Consuelo Callahan, Carlos Bea, N. Randy Smith and Barry Silverman stated that “in the context of present-day California law, the defendant counties’ limited licensing of the right to carry concealed firearms is tantamount to a total ban on the right of an ordinary citizen to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”

According to the US Supreme Court verdict in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment “protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” The Heller decision reaffirmed the amendment as a fundamental individual right.

California’s chapter of the National Rifle Association (NRA) called the verdict “expected, but still disappointing.”

Thursday’s ruling was a result of the appeal by the state to the 2014 verdict by the same court, which decided there was a Second Amendment right to carry firearms outside the home. Concealed carry would be the only way to legally do so in California, after Penal Code 26350 outlawed the open carrying of firearms in 2012.