In a 7 to 4 decision, an en banc panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is no 2nd Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm, meaning that the states can prohibit or restrict the public from carrying concealed firearms. The case is Peruta v. County of San Diego. The case involved a requirement in San Diego County that in order to obtain a license to carry a firearm citizens had to prove “good cause” to carry a firearm. The Plaintiffs challenged the requirement by arguing that the county did not consider the general right to self defense as enough to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. The case was decided by the entire panel of 9th Circuit Judges. The majority found that there is no right to carry a conceal firearm in the 2nd Amendment. In the majority opinion, the cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago to support the argument that the 2nd Amendment does not protect the right to carry a concealed firearm. Justice Scalia, the author of the Heller decision did state that the right to keep a gun was no absolute and did state that reasonable restrictions were appropriate. One example in Heller cited by Scalia was restrictions on concealed firearms.
In the coming days, we are sure to hear lots of debate surrounding the significance of this decision. There is no doubt that this decision is a blow to gun rights activists. But let’s keep this decision in perspective. It seems like the ruling in this case is pretty narrow. The Court did not say that concealed weapons are unconstitutional and did not make any decision about the right of the public to carry a weapon in public. While the Heller and McDonald decisions are considered major 2nd Amendment cases, neither of these cases granted an absolute right to own a firearm. These decisions did provide for reasonable restrictions. And this is only a 9th Circuit decision so it’s impact is limited to the 9th Circuit. What the case does is create an interesting Supreme Court question. The question is if the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to carry a gun in public, and if so, what kind of restrictions can states put in place? I doubt that the Supreme Court will be eager to take on this issue. I don’t think that this case really changed anything that the Supreme Court would do. The decisions in Heller and McDonald tell us that the Court is not willing to give the public the absolute right to carry concealed firearms. Last year the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a New York case which upheld a similar “good cause” requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm in New York. In addition, Justice Scalia’s passing has been the really major blow to gun rights activists. Scalia was the main proponent of 2nd Amendment rights and his unfilled Supreme Court position creates uncertainty about the future direction of the Supreme Court. But even before Scalia’s passing, The Court did indicate that it was willing to err on the side of allowing for reasonable restrictions when it came to gun rights.
James Dimeas is an award winning Chicago criminal defense attorney and author with more than 23 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in UUW cases. If you have a UUW case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.
Peruta v. County of San Diego, United States District Court for the Ninth Circuit, No. 10-56971, 2016.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783 (2008).
McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010).