A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
acting on a lawsuit by gun owners, earlier this month struck down as
unconstitutional a requirement by San Diego County that residents
show "good cause" to carry a concealed firearm.
In a 2-1 decision, the panel found that San Diego county's rules,
coupled with a California state law that largely bans the open
carrying of firearms in public, effectively barred residents from
carrying a gun altogether, in violation of the Second Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution.
Lawyers for both sides agreed that the panel's ruling, if upheld,
would force cities and counties across California to issue permits
to anyone who sought to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense
and met the other requirements under state law.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has since said that he would not
pursue further appeals in the case. But on Thursday, Attorney
General Kamala Harris filed a petition asking the full 9th Circuit
court to overturn the panel.
"Local law enforcement must be able to use their discretion to
determine who can carry a concealed weapon," Harris said in a
statement announcing the court filing.
"I will do everything possible to restore law enforcement's
authority to protect public safety and so today am calling on the
court to review and reverse its decision," Harris said.
California, which has enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the
United States, allows residents to carry a concealed weapon if they
meet several requirements, including completing a training course,
demonstrating good moral character and establishing "good cause" to
have the gun.
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Interpretation of the statute is left to individual jurisdictions,
with San Diego County taking one of the most restrictive stances by
refusing to accept self-defense or concern for personal safety as a
Instead, applicants must demonstrate a special need or a specific
risk in order to establish good cause.
In dissenting from the majority opinion, 9th Circuit Justice Sidney
Thomas wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court had found it constitutional
to place restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in public.
He said the 9th Circuit panel's majority went beyond the legal
questions posed in the lawsuit to render a ruling that "not only
strikes down San Diego County's concealed carry policy, but upends
the entire California firearm regulatory scheme."
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb)
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