A landmark ruling came down on February 14, 2014 in the NRA-supported case of Peruta v. County of San Diego. A three-judge federal panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down San Diego County Sheriff William Gore’s policy requiring that law-abiding adults prove they have a special need in order to establish a “good cause” to be issued a license to carry a firearm in public before he would issue them one. This ruling may at long last ultimately result in California joining over forty other states and becoming a “shall-issue” jurisdiction.
The Peruta ruling affirmed that the Second Amendment protects a law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms outside of one’s home -- in some manner. In other words, the court held that while the government can regulate or even ban some forms of carry (like open or concealed) it cannot ban all forms of carry. California law generally provides only one way to lawfully carry arms in public, i.e., with a concealed carry license. So if the Peruta decision stands, California sheriffs and police chiefs will no longer be able to deny licenses to carry firearms to people simply because they cannot prove that they have a special need to defend themselves that would constitute “good cause” for the license.
What Happens Next?
The Peruta decision is not final. At least not yet. It could still be reconsidered by what’s called a “limited en banc” panel in the Ninth Circuit, and it could also be reconsidered by the U.S. Supreme Court. To read more about the en banc process and how this case could develop, visit here.
Apply for a License to Carry Now!
People have asked whether they should apply for a license to carry now, or wait to see what happens in the Peruta case. Because there is no final judgement in Peruta yet, there is no final court order or judgment forcing authorities to issue licenses under the Peruta criteria. If your particular sheriff or police chief would not issue carry licenses before Peruta, technically they are not legally required to change that policy -- yet.
Nonetheless, some authorities see the writing on the wall and are accepting an applicant’s general desire for self-defense as sufficient “good cause” for a carry license based on the reasoning in the Peruta decision. Applying for a license now will demonstrate to these authorities that there is interest in the issue, and that there is an engaged and informed electorate that is going to insist on getting access to these licenses no matter what happens. And thanks to NRA-supported changes in the process by which license to carry are issued you should be able to apply without incurring significant up-front expense.
Support the Legal Effort
The NRA is committed to protecting the rights of citizens everywhere to bear arms. As things develop, the NRA will help its members in holdout jurisdictions to respect their Second Amendment rights and to enforce the Peruta ruling against every recalcitrant county and state in the Ninth Circuit.
You can assist in the fight to defend gun owners’ rights in California courts by donating to the NRA Legal Action Project today. For a summary of some of the many actions the NRA has taken on behalf of California gun owners, including the tremendous recent victory in the Peruta case click here.
Second Amendment supporters should be careful about supporting litigation efforts promised by other individuals and groups without access to the necessary funding, relationships, firearm experts and experienced lawyers on the NRA’s national legal team. The NRA’s team of highly regarded civil rights attorneys and scholars has the resources, skill and expertise to maximize the potential for victory.