A ruling by the 9th US District Court of Appeals on Thursday overturned restrictions on concealed carry in San Diego County, California and could affect much of the state.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 2-1 ruling by the panel found that current rules which allow California counties to restrict concealed carry violate the Second Amendment. The panel came to its decision after reasoning that some local restrictions essentially bar residents from carrying a firearm for self-defense.
“We are not holding that the Second Amendment requires the states to permit concealed carry,” Diarmuid O’Scannlain, one of the three judges on the panel, wrote in the ruling. “But the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”
In California, concealed carry permit requirements are decided by individual counties. Counties with large urban populations—such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco—historically have stricter requirements. In particular, applicants in San Diego County have to meet a “good cause” requirement before they are issued a permit. This means applicants have to prove a specific need to carry a concealed weapon beyond just self-defense.
“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,” wrote O’Scannlain.
Gun rights advocates are calling the ruling a major victory in California, a state known for its tight firearm regulations.
“No one should have to wait until they are assaulted before they are allowed to exercise their fundamental right of self-defense,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The US Supreme Court has already affirmed our constitutional right to keep arms, and today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the right to bear arms. Our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms is not limited to the home.”
The NRA supported the 2009 lawsuit—which was filed after gun owner Edward Peruta was denied a concealed carry permit in San Diego County—that led to the panel’s decision.
“The 9th Circuit confirmed that the government no longer gets to pick and choose which law-abiding citizens may exercise their constitutional right to carry a firearm for self-defense,” attorney Chuck Michel, who represented the plaintiffs in the case against San Diego County’s restrictions, told Reuters.
If upheld, the ruling would mean major changes in the way that state counties issue permits. For now, California’s current rules will remain in place pending appeals. San Diego County officials stated that they may seek a rehearing before a larger court, leading some to speculate that the issue may wind up in the US Supreme Court.