A case revolving around concealed carry permits in California, and the alleged infringement certain permit requirements pose to the Second Amendment, is now on a path to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
California requires applicants to show “good cause” for needing a permit before one is issued. This requirement was challenged in court, and on February 13, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the requirement was unconstitutional — that the right to keep and bear arms is, in and of itself, a sufficient cause for bearing arms for self-defense.
But the Ninth Circuit revisited its 2014 ruling — this time, with 11 judges — and on June 9, 2016, ruled that Americans have no right to carry a concealed gun outside the home. In light of the absence of a right to do so, the court found no constitutional barrier to requiring a “good cause” to do so, thereby reversing the earlier decision.
Having been heard by a three-judge panel in 2014 and again by 11 judges in 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that plaintiffs sought a hearing before the full Ninth Circuit. “But but the court said Monday that the request had failed to win a majority among its 28 active judges.” So the next stop for the case will be the judges of SCOTUS, should they accept it.
The Chronicle observes that in California, concealed carry permits are “virtually unavailable to anyone” in light of the current set of requirements necessary to acquire one. “Police and security guards in most metropolitan areas” are able to obtain them — citing “good cause” in light of their day jobs — and persons in rural areas are able to acquire them by “[asserting] a need for self-defense” that is not canceled out by a criminal record.
The original Ninth Circuit decision was that carrying a gun outside the home for self-defense is part of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and that adding certain requirements — “good cause” or otherwise — infringes that right. The court went in an opposite direction in 2016, ruling that the right to carry a gun outside the home does not even exist.
It is important to note the Ninth Circuit’s decision is focused on carrying a “concealed” gun outside the home versus openly carrying a gun outside the home. To have ruled in a way that would have rejected a right to open carry would have led to a collision course between the Ninth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit, which upheld a constitutional right to open carry in 2012. By not addressing open carry — and thereby avoiding a “circuit split” — the Ninth may have dampened SCOTUS’ motivation for hearing the CA concealed permit case, which means the Ninth’s most recent ruling would stand.
Even if SCOTUS does decide to hear the case, the ruling could still affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision, as SCOTUS stands divided 4-4 on the Second Amendment.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.