SAN FRANCISCO — Finding no Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm in public, the en banc Ninth Circuit upheld tough California gun laws Thursday.
“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote (pdf) for the majority.
Edward Peruta, a journalist who says he needs to carry a gun to protect himself, brought one leg of the case when San Diego County rejected his application for a concealed-carry license in 2009.
Six other plaintiffs denied concealed-carry permit for the same reasons brought similar challenges.
They said San Diego and Yolo counties’ requirements for permit holders to show “good cause” violated the Second Amendment, but federal judges granted summary judgment for the counties in each case.
Though a three-judge panel initially reversed, the federal appeals court set that decision aside pending review by the full Ninth Circuit. It affirmed 7-4 Thursday.
“The Second Amendment may or may not protect, to some degree, a right of a member of the general public to carry firearms in public. But the existence vel non of such a right, and the scope of such a right, are separate from and independent of the question presented here,” Fletcher wrote. “We hold only that there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
The judges emphasized that their holding does not assess whether the Second Amendment protects “some ability” to carry firearms in public — an issue that the U.S. Supreme Court tackled in the landmark case Heller v. District of Columbia, which says the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for “traditionally lawful” purposes.
Chief Judge Sidney Thomas joined Fletcher’s lead opinion, along with Judges Harry Pregerson, Susan Graber, Margaret McKeown, Richard Paez and John Owens. Judge N. Randy Smith, Judge Carlos Bea, Judge Consuelo Callahan and Judge Barry Silverman dissented.