By Miriam Raftery
November 14, 2014 (San Diego)—The U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals, in a divided 2-1 decision, ruled this week that California’s attorney general and gun control groups cannot appeal a decision that granted broader concealed gun carry rights in a San Diego case.
Gun owner Edward Peruta had challenged Sheriff Bill Gore’s restrictions on carrying concealed loaded guns in public places. In February, a court ruled that the Sheriff must issue a permit for a concealed weapon to Peruta, who said he wanted to carry a gun for self defense, even though he did not prove any specific threat had been made. A permit can still be denied if someone has a criminal record or serious mental health issues.
San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore opted not to appeal the lower court ruling that broadened gun owners’ rights and has begun issuing permits pursuant to the court decision. The case has been cited as precedent, prompting many other California counties and law enforcement departments to do the same.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence appealed the verdict after Sheriff Gore declined to do so. But two of the three appellate court justice found that Harris and the gun control advocates had waited too late to do so. It is possible, however, that the full 11-member court could still decide to hear the appeal.
Jonathan Lowy, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center for Prevent Gun Violence, says the court’s decision barring Brady chapters from defending what he calls San Diego’s “sensible concealed firearms policy” is contrary to Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent. The group is weighing its legal options.
He adds, “The shooting deaths of unarmed teenagers Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin by licensed concealed-carry holders highlights the dangers created when law enforcement is not allowed to prevent dangerous people from carrying guns in public. Make no mistake, we think San Diego and any other city has the right to reasonably restrict the carrying of loaded, hidden handguns in public, and we are confident that position will ultimately prevail.”
But gun advocacy groups contend that citizens should have a right to carry guns for self protection.
Joyce Malcolm, a law professor at George Mason University law school, concludes, “A right to bear arms is no right at all if you need to demonstrate a need to carry that firearm which satisfies the police.”