A radical Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision earlier this month put one of California’s key laws in jeopardy. In that case, two conservative judges issued a decision that could potentially undermine a decades old law allowing law enforcement to have discretion over who is allowed to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public. Today, California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a request that the Ninth Circuit reconsider the case in front of an en banc panel of judges.
The law at issue here allows law enforcement to issue a permit to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public if the applicant can demonstrate “good cause” for receiving a permit. This type of system is commonly called a “may issue” permitting system and is not uncommon in other states across the country. In Peruta v. County of San Diego, two judges on a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit decided that California’s good cause requirement must be interpreted to allow anyone who claims a general desire for personal self-defense in public to be issued a permit, contrary to three other circuits’ decisions on this issue.
Given that this decision guts a critical piece of California law regarding guns in public, it is no surprise that the Attorney General has decided to get involved in the case and request an en banc rehearing. Today, the Law Center—which also filed an amicus brief in front of the original three judge panel—filed an amicus brief that supports the Attorney General’s request. Our brief argues that the Peruta decision is a dramatic departure from other courts’ analysis of this issue. In fact, cases challenging similar “may issue” systems in New York, Maryland, and New Jersey have been rejected by three different federal appellate courts.
The briefs filed by the Law Center, Attorney General Harris, and other organizations send a clear message to the Ninth Circuit to stop this radical decision by two judges which could overturn decades of California law that helps law enforcement prevent gun violence. This unprecedented ruling starkly departs from other courts’ interpretations of the Second Amendment by failing to consider the public safety benefits of granting law enforcement discretion in deciding who should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon and by failing to recognize the well-established history of regulating guns in public. Courts that have taken those considerations into account have all upheld these critical laws.
The Law Center’s brief was joined by Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle, who stated:
Law enforcement needs the discretion to do what is right for their communities when it comes to who can carry concealed weapons on our streets. Two judges should not be able to force their extreme view on the entire state and dismantle California’s successful system.
Since the controversial 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, the gun lobby has flooded the courts with similar claims, which have nearly all been rejected. The Law Center tracks and analyzes Second Amendment litigation across the country and has found that, in the last six years, over 90% of the challenges to our nation’s gun laws have been rejected, leaving almost all state gun laws intact across the country.
For more, read our information on other cases that have addressed the Second Amendment since the pivotal 2008 Heller case or read our summary of concealed weapon permitting laws nationwide.