On Thursday June 9th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect the right to carry a concealed weapon in public. The 7-4 ruling upheld a previous ruling regarding plaintiff Edward Peruta, who had been denied a concealed carry permit by San Diego County.
The Court ruled that the reasons for Peruta’s denial were valid, and that “any prohibition or restriction a state may choose” may be applied to concealed firearms. Writing the opinion of the majority, Judge William M. Fletcher outlined the decision:
“We hold that the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
This most recent decision runs contrary to prior cases tried by the Ninth Court. In February 2014, the San Francisco based bench ruled that the Second Amendment does give the individual the right to carry a firearm for self defense outside the home. In May of this year, the court ruled that the Second Amendment does implicitly include the right to buy or sell guns as a matter or course.
The decision has the potential to affect gun rights beyond California. The Ninth Circuit Court covers a large swath of the Western United States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Given its geographic scope, the immediate and powerful response from Second Amendment activists is unsurprising. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action published a lengthy public statement about the decision, which it decried as “shameful sophistry and slight of hand.”
While a majority of the Ninth Circuit judges signed onto the decision to deny Californians their rights, three strongly-reasoned dissents, accounting for the opinions of four judges, called out the majority’s chicanery. The dissents correctly point out that it was the State, not the plaintiffs, who established the “concealed carry” permitting context of the case. The dissenting judges also would have explicitly held that responsible, law-abiding Americans certainly do have a right to “bear” arms in public for self-defense, an issue on which the majority claimed to reserve judgement.