AG Harris Appeals Court’s Decision In Concealed Carry Case

California Attorney General Kamala Harris today asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review and reverse a decision striking down a San Diego County permit process that restricted the right of individuals to carry concealed weapons.

A three-judge panel ruled on Feb. 13 that the county violated the Second Amendment by requiring individuals to show “good cause,” such as a fear for their safety, when applying for a concealed weapons permit.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel found that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects not only the right of individuals to own guns but also the right to carry them for the purposes of self-defense.

Harris said that state law currently gives local law enforcement discretion over the final permit decision, a discretion that would be eliminated by the court’s decision.

“I will do everything possible to restore law enforcement’s authority to protect public safety, and so today am calling on the court to review and reverse its decision,” she said in a statement.

Harris’ decision to appeal drew praise from gun control advocates. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a brief in support of Harris request for a review of the case before a larger panel of judges.

“By filing this brief, the Law Center is sending the Ninth Circuit a clear message: Do not allow the radical decision of two judges to overturn decades of California law that helps law enforcement prevent gun violence,” said Cody Jacobs, a staff attorney with the center.

Jacobs noted that similar cases challenging concealed weapons permitting systems in other parts of the country have been rejected by federal appellate courts.

The court cited two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in making its decision. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the right to bear arms applies to individuals, as opposed to only state-run militias, and concluded in 2010 that the right can be enforced against state and local governments.

Thursday’s 9th Circuit decision argued that the precedent set in those two cases means that California must allow law-abiding citizens the option to carry firearms outside the home for the purposes of self-defense, whether by allowing open or concealed carry.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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  • vincewarde

    For the anti-gun rights crowd, appealing to the entire 9th Circuit makes some sense, especially politically. No surprise that AG Harris is going to do that.

    However, appealing to the Supreme Court carries a very high risk of loss and the ruling would apply to the entire country. When faced with this same choice, the state of Illinois chose not to appeal a nearly identical ruling made by the 7th Circuit, likely for this very reason. They complied with the ruling. If this ruling survives an appeal to the entire 9th Circuit, Harris may very well choose not to appeal. If the gun rights advocates loose, they definitely will appeal – and the high court will very likely take this case. Why? Because of the appeals court split, and because this is a “clean” case upon which the issue may be decided.

    How is the CURRENT SCOTUS likely to decide the case if it gets there? Chances are they will affirm the current decision. Here’s why: The 2nd Amendment right, affirmed as personal in Heller, applied to the states in McDonald, is to “Keep and Bear Arms”. In the setting of personal rights this can only mean to carry on one person outside the home. In McDonald the right was declared to be “fundamental to our system of ordered liberty” – indicating it will be accorded a high degree of protection – meaning that any controls placed upon it will need to be the least intrusive required to advance a compelling government interest. Given the 43 states currently have concealed carry systems compliant with the ruling, it’s going to be hard to make the case that government can restrict the carrying of firearms to those whom they think have “good cause” because this is the least intrusive way to insure public safety. They likely can ban either open or concealed carry – but they cannot effectively ban both. They likely can also require permits, background checks and a reasonable amount of training.

    Harris would have been smart to do what gun control advocates did in Illinois: Sit down with the gun rights folks and hammer out a law that everyone can live with. (The could even use the Illinois statute!) Not doing so carries with it the risk of an even greater loss.

  • zango

    The right to keep and bear/carry arms is not a Lollipop for the Police to give out to friends and family. It’s a right granted by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Harris is going to lose this fight.

  • AG Kamala Harris, you are wrong if you truly believe the way the law was written protected public safety. The “old” law, recently struck down by the Court of Appeals was discriminatory: a law-abiding California citizen might not be granted a concealed weapons permit solely based on their address.

    Perhaps Californians would not be so vocal about their support for equal rights for self-protection if they felt their local law enforcement agencies were doing an adequate job.