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San Diego gun law case potentially headed to U.S. Supreme Court
A court case from 2009 which argued against requiring a reason, or good cause, in order to receive a concealed carry permit continues to make ripples seven years later. While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether or not to hear their case, Edward Peruta and gun owners across the country are anxious to finally have a decision on this common but controversial set of laws. The San Diego County initiated the request on Thursday, continuing a long battle supported by many San Diego residents and gun owners nationwide.
San Diego County is not alone in the process of making concealed carry permits available on a limited basis. A small number of states, or more appropriately, counties within those states enforce a “May issue” jurisdiction where good cause is necessary. These choices are generally decided by the county Sheriff or the police department. Good cause can be broadly defined as an additional reason beyond just standard self-defense, of which everyone is entitled to. Additional CCW requirements include having a good moral character and additional safety training. In this case, the San Diego Sheriff’s office denied a licensing application due to the primary plaintiff’s failure to show cause.
Good cause has frequently been a source of contention as some counties have very lax enforcement of what denotes good cause, making it very easy to obtain a CCW. While others fall in stark contrast to the ease of rural counties, where denial is very common unless you can show one of the very few accepted examples of good cause. Typically jobs with a high level of danger such as transporting large sums from location to location easily qualify. All in all, approval often remains up to the whims of the Sheriff or Police Department and can’t usually be contested. The judges themselves are seemingly torn on the constitutionality of the subject as court decisions on Peruta’s case have had it’s share of flip flops. The original ruling by a federal judge in 2010 was not in favor of Peruta and his fellow plaintiffs. However, this was eventually overturned four years later with a 2-1 vote in the Ninth circuit. This small victory resulted in a surge of CCW approvals, now that the only requirements were a good moral character, sufficient firearms training and the standard background check.
Victory for the plaintiffs would appear to be short lived. While San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore had zero interest at all in appealing the case, California’s Attorney General did and exercised the appeal on his behalf. With this, an en banc session was granted. En banc is essentially a rehearing of arguments in front of a much larger panel of judges, as opposed to the small three judge panel that ruled on the appeal originally. After a long and grueling year of addressing all the arguments, the reversal was overturned in a 7-4 split of the 11 judge panel. The argument of the Attorney General’s office was as follows: “California seeks to strike a sensible balance between recognizing and accommodating both individual rights and reasonable gun use and implementing the State’s legislative judgment that unrestricted carrying of handguns in cities, towns, or other populated areas makes the public less safe.”
The dissenting opinions of the four judges varied, but were joint in their disagreement with the overall ruling. As originally reported by the Washington Post, the primary dissenting argument pointed to the California’s ban on open carry. With concealed carry also so heavily restricted as to be typically denied to the general public, there was a clear conflict with the overall right to bear arms, clearly an infringement. There was a push for a reversal of current trends, instead allowing open carry to be heavily restricted while concealed carry would become relatively easy to obtain under a licensing system dubbed more fair. This is a small battle in what has seemingly been an endless war in the gun rights debate. The right to bear arms is accepted and naturally required by our constitution, but arguments will forever exist based on how far restriction and regulation can limit this constitutional right. With such decisions left to states, counties and even the whims of the local sheriff there is likely no end in sight without a series of United States Supreme Court rulings.
Peruta eventually tried in vain to obtain an appeal in front of the en banc panel but was unsuccessful, ushering the case to where it is today. With the petition filed to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, there is much to be desired with regards to the confidence of its acceptance. Since its 2008 ruling that the 2nd Amendment includes a right for individuals to have guns at their residence for self-defense, the Supreme Court has consistently avoided tackling major gun rights battles. It may naturally be hard to argue that the 2nd Amendment also includes carrying concealed weapons but the incoming presidential transition may give more hope to advocates for gun rights. Based on political affiliations and stated intention, Donald Trump is all but guaranteed to nominate a Supreme Court Justice pick who will be fervently supportive of the 2nd Amendment. The only question remaining is will it be in time for this petition, and will it influence the glaring history of avoidance with regard to gun-related arguments.
The San Diego Tribune reported that 2,463 concealed carry permit applications without a good cause reason filed prior to the en banc reversal were accepted but immediately placed on hold and will remain on hold pending a law change. Elsewhere in Orange County, the reaction to the previous 9th court decision was far more swift, with many CCW permits issued as opposed to applications under review. Naturally, this was halted after the reversal, but it does mean for those in Orange County who applied during the period, no cause was needed to obtain their permit. Now for San Diego and many other counties, CCW permits lacking an approved reason of necessity are destined to remain in limbo for an unknown duration.
Self-defense is a right that everyone is entitled to and few things are more frustrating than facing charges that will limit your future ability to defend yourself. Criminal defense attorney Vik Monder represents the people of San Diego County and the surrounding area in these cases and more. The Monder Law Group tackles charges of illegal possession of weapons, assault with a deadly weapon and other associated charges that not only threaten to impact your freedom but your right to protection as well. If your personal freedom or gun ownership rights are threatened by a pending felony or criminal case, contact Vik Monder at 619-405-0063 as soon as possible. Success in such serious cases can be time dependent and we wish to provide you the best defense possible.