It has been a good couple of weeks in California for gun rights. On February 13th the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit announced its opinion in Peruta v. Gore, which held that the San Diego County sheriff used an unconstitutionally narrow standard for the "good cause" requirement for issuance of CCW permits. So narrow in fact that it is impossible for an ordinary law-abiding person to obtain a license to carry.
This policy, combined with the state law totally outlawing open carry of
firearms (thank you Assemblymembers Portantino and Ammiano!),
constituted a total ban on the carry of firearms in public, a ban that
the 9th CA found unconstitutional, noting in its opinion that citizens
must be allowed to carry firearms in some manner.
The opinion is very well researched and logically argued, following the example set by the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald opinions. As such, it will be a powerful piece of case law in favor of gun rights, and it will be very difficult to overturn.
In further developments, the San Diego Country Sheriffs office announced on February 22nd that the county would not seek an en banc appeal of the 9th Ca decision. There is still a possibility that a judge in the 9th CA itself could request an en banc,
in which case the process would continue. But at this time, the case is
over, and the decision will stand across the entire 9th CA district,
which includes California and Hawaii as states that generally restrict
public carry of firearms.
Yesterday the San Jose Mercury News weighed in on this issue with an editorial entitled "Highest court has to review gun rulings", (note that the online editorial title differs from the printed
editorial title cited above) which is ironic since it appears on the
same that that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rejected all three 2nd Amendment cases that had petitioned for certiorari, continuing their trend in recent years of rejecting all 2nd Amendment cases that petition for review.
The Mercury News gets right to the point: armed law abiding citizens are "dangerous":
"If the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' recent ruling striking down
restrictions on concealed-carry gun permits is allowed to stand,
California will become a more dangerous place."
Yes, because the law-abiding citizen is the source of all gun violence
in this state, and we don't already have hundreds of thousands of not so
law-abiding already carrying guns illegally.
"Fortunately, the ruling is on hold pending appeal -- and the Supreme Court really needs to take up this case. "
Actually, the ruling is not on hold because there has been no appeal.
Apparently the Mercury News does not read San Diego County Sheriffs
In any case I totally agree that the Supreme Court should take up the
case because there is a circuit court split on this issue that is a mile
wide, but it is unclear how this case would make it to the Supreme
Court. Only the parties to the case have standing to appeal. Mr. Peruta,
et al, have won their case, and San Diego County has declined to
proceed. The only thing preventing a final decision enforcing the
ruling all across the state is that the District Federal Court must
receive that case on remand and issue the order striking the offending
San Diego policy as directed by the Circuit Court. It seems that the
Mercruy News does not understand how the Federal court system works.
The Mercury News wants the Supreme Court to rule to restore the status-quo in California, but what we really need is a strong ruling to knock
down the laws in those states, like the 9th Circuit did in California.
States like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland continue to use similar
discretionary laws to deny the rights of law abiding citizens to carry
firearms in public, while Washington D.C. prohibits the practice
"The deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis in Florida show what
happens when guns proliferate in public: People use them to resolve
disputes when they could walk away. And people who don't properly handle
weapons put us all in greater danger."
Ah, yes, raise the specter of white-on-black violence to cloud the
issue. The Mercury News gets the essence of these cases wrong once
again. The Martin case shows that citizens can safely use firearms in
self defense: the facts of the case showed that Martin attacked
Zimmerman, and Zimmerman used lawful means to defend himself. The Davis
case shows that even in states that allow widespead concealed carry, all
instances of firearms use will be investigated and must be justified.
And the Mercury News ignores this fact: most young black males killed
with guns are killed by other black males.
California will not become a lawless place just because more people are
carrying concealed weapons, but Californians will have the means to
protect themselves from the lawlessness of others in our society. How do
I know this? Because that is what we learned from the experiences of
the thirty nine states that issue licenses on a shall=issue basis over
the last 25 years, and the experience of some 8 million lawful citizens.
"It's urban areas, including much of Santa Clara County, that face the
greatest peril if the Supreme Court agrees with the 9th Circuit's
decision. California's strict gun safety regime would be seriously
undermined, and we would all have to grapple with the consequences."
I do agree that there will be consequences. Tens of thousands, perhaps as
many as 1.5 million, people will be able to carry concealed in
California, and the Mercury News and sheriffs departments all around the
state are going to get a hard lesson on respecting the newest civil
right. In the end, we will all be better off.