The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected on Monday a request from gun rights groups to rehear a challenge to California’s restrictive concealed carry laws, setting the case on a path towards a final decision by the Supreme Court.
The laws require California residents to obtain a permit from local law enforcement agencies before they can carry a concealed firearm. The permits are impossible to obtain by anyone except police and security guards in most metropolitan areas, according to SFGate.com. Residents have to prove a “good cause” for carrying a handgun for self-defense, which can be difficult even in rural and inland areas.
The Ninth Circuit Court initially ruled this law to be unconstitutional, striking it down in a 2-1 decision. As the Second Amendment guarantees the right to “bear [i.e., carry] arms,” and a constitutional right to carry firearms in one’s own home doesn’t make sense, the court ruled that the Second Amendment applies equally inside and outside the home.
But three years of law school can muddy even the simplest language, and, when gun control groups appealed, the 11-judge version of the Ninth Circuit Court reversed the previous ruling with a 7-4 vote.
Gun rights advocates requested the case be heard by the full, 28-judge court, but the court denied the request.
Now the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to hear the case and decide the future of concealed carry laws not just in California—but nationwide. Don’t hold your breath, though. Over the years, the high court has had the opportunity to hear similar cases on ‘may-issue’ concealed-carry standards that require “good cause,” but has refused to take up the cases.
Plus, with Justice Scalia’s passing, now may not be the best time for the Supreme Court to render a decision on the “good cause” requirement. It might be best to wait until a new pro-gun justice is appointed — assuming one is appointed following the presidential elections in November (it’s not looking good; Hillary has been leading in the polls).
Meanwhile, California gun owners have been shattering gun sale records, setting a pace to purchase nearly one million guns in 2016, according to a report from KQED. Sales in 2014 and 2015 never cracked 900,000, but 990,000 guns are expected to be purchased this year. Sales have spiked in the aftermath of the mass murders in Orlando and Dallas as Californians (rightly) feared stricter gun control measures weren’t far behind (see video above).
Many of those purchased handguns (288,331 through July), which, presumably, Californians hope to use to defend themselves against the next terrorist attack. But their ability to do so might be even more hampered than it already is if the Supreme Court rules against the right to bear arms outside the home.
The consequences of such a ruling would not be immediately felt, as the Court does not have the power to ban concealed carry nationwide. A ruling in favor of gun control groups would, however, open the door for more states to follow California’s lead unchallenged. Ultimately, such a decision would give an anti-gun Congress the opportunity to ban concealed carry in every state, stripping the constitutional self-defense rights from millions of law-abiding gun owners. Right now, thankfully, the GOP controls the Congress. But it doesn’t take long for things to change.