The great Dave Kopel reports that just minutes ago California’s Ninth Circuit Court has affirmed the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public.
The Court decided, according to Kopel, that the requirement to show the authorities “good cause” in order to carry one’s tool of self defense in public was in violation of the Second Amendment. Prior to this decision, San Diego County interpreted this phrase to mean that anyone who wishes to exercise their Second Amendment rights in public must face current specific threats and claimed that “one’s personal safety alone is not considered ‘good cause’.”
The Court ruled that a government may specify what mode of carrying to allow (open or concealed), but a government may not make it impossible for the vast majority of Californians to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The opinion is here.
The Court specifically says that the Second Amendment secures the right not only to “keep” arm but also to “bear” them – a verb the meaning of which, according to the 2008 Heller decision means “to carry.” It meant “to carry” at the time of the creation of the Constitution, and it means the same thing now. And no, it doesn’t mean just “to transport,” but to “wear, bear or carry upon the person for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in case of a conflict with another person. The Court also points out that anyone with half a brain and knowledge of the English language understands that carrying or “bearing” is not limited to the home, and it cites several cases, including Heller, to point out that it’s quite obvious that the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to carry their arms outside the home.
The Court made it clear that they’re not saying Heller requires every state to permit concealed carry, but rather it requires that states permit “some form” of carry for self defense outside the home.
Score for the Second Amendment!
“…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and San Diego County’s insistence that anyone wishing to carry outside the home show that they’re somehow in immediate danger and present proof that their life is threatened was quite obviously an infringement.
To be sure, my own opinion is that “shall not be infringed” means just that, and while background checks and training requirements are all well and good, they’re certainly not going to stop gang bangers and other thuglets from carrying wherever and whenever they want – without a license or a permit. Meanwhile, those Californians who abide by the law, will be waiting around for their permits to arrive and for the county to perform their background check, making them vulnerable prey for predators wanting to victimize them.
So, do I think the decision in Peruta v. San Diego is optimal?
Do I think the battle is over?
Far from it.
Do I think this is a step in the right direction?
Let’s keep fighting!