A surprising ruling out of the California-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the Second Amendment endows the right to carry a gun outside the home.
The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel in Peruta v. San Diego affirms the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public. San Diego County had denied lead plaintiff Edward Peruta and others a license to carry concealed, which, according to state law, requires residents to show “good cause” for carrying—personal safety alone does not qualify as good cause in California.
Did California’s “good cause” clause infringe on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms? The 2-1 opinion, written by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, ruled that Peruta is entitled to summary judgment because the “good cause” provision violates the Second Amendment.
On page 53 of the decision, the court said, “ … [thus] the question is not whether the California scheme (in light of San Diego County’s policy) allows some people to bear arms outside the home in some places at some times; instead, the question is whether it allows the typical responsible, law-abiding citizen to bear arms in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense. The answer to the latter question is a resounding ‘no.’ …
“In California, the only way that the typical responsible, law-abiding citizen can carry a weapon in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is with a concealed-carry permit. And, in San Diego County, that option has been taken off the table. The San Diego County policy specifies that concern for ‘one’s personal safety alone’ does not satisfy the ‘good cause’ requirement for issuance of a permit. Instead, an applicant must demonstrate that he suffers a unique risk of harm.”
And: “To be clear, we are not holding that the Second Amendment requires the states to permit concealed carry. But the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”
San Diego County may petition for en banc review, which means the entire Ninth Circuit bench might rehear the case. For now, the decision rests with the district court, which may retry the case under the appellate court’s directions.
On the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog at the Washington Post, attorney and Second Amendment expert David Kopel wrote of the case, “Today’s decision creates a split of the Seventh and Ninth Circuits vs. the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. The Peruta Court says that Circuits 2-4 erred by relying on cases which are, pursuant to Heller, incorrect, because those cases say that the only purpose of the Second Amendment is for the militia; Heller teaches that the Second Amendment right includes personal self-defense, and need not be connected to militia service.”