American citizens have no constitutional right to carry a concealed firearm in public, according to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court.
The Court on Thursday upheld California’s “good cause” requirement, which gives county sheriffs discretion to determine if a concealed carry applicant has “good cause” to carry a firearm. Personal safety does not qualify.
“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, 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,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the majority.
Lawmakers are thus free to enact “any prohibition or restriction a state may choose” on the carrying of concealed guns, Fletcher said.
The suit was originally brought by Edward Peruta, a journalist who says he needs to carry a gun to protect himself. He—along with several additional plaintiffs—said the “good cause” requirement violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit initially upheld Peruta’s suit, striking down the “good cause” requirement. But then, as Breitbart reported, under pressure from State Attorney Kamala Harris, the court announced it would re-hear the case with all 11 judges present.
The full court upheld the California law 7-4, striking a major blow to gun-rights activists fighting state and local laws they believe (and we believe) violate the Second Amendment.
In her dissent, Judge Consuelo M. Callahan said the Second Amendment demands individuals be permitted to carry a weapon in self-defense under the Second Amendment, either openly or concealed. California’s ban on open carry, she argued, effectively eliminates the ability of California residents to carry firearms for self-defense.
According to the Wall Street Journal, gun-law experts, Second Amendment scholars, and others believe the constitutionality of concealed carry laws will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has so far turned away several opportunities to take up the issue.
If, however, an anti-gun president is able to appoint another anti-gun justice and the court does decide to take up the case, the 9th Circuit’s decision sets a worrisome precedent for the future of concealed carry.
A 5-4 decision against gun rights would enable anti-gun state legislatures to pass laws that ban the possession of weapons outside the home. It would strip Second Amendment protections on the carrying of firearms for self-defense, and enable state and local authorities to continue to erode all other firearms rights.
“The Second Amendment may or may not protect, to some degree, a right of a member of the general public to carry firearms in public. But the existence vel non of such a right, and the scope of such a right, are separate from and independent of the question presented here,” Fletcher concluded. “We hold only that there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
Chief Judge Sidney Thomas joined Fletcher’s lead opinion, along with Judges Harry Pregerson, Susan Graber, Margaret McKeown, Richard Paez and John Owens.
Judge N. Randy Smith, Judge Carlos Bea, Judge Consuelo Callahan and Judge Barry Silverman dissented.