Federal Appeals Court Rules Americans Have No Right to Concealed Carry in Public

WASHINGTON TIMES — Americans have no constitutional right to carry concealed firearms outside the home, a federal appellate court ruled Thursday in a decision that immediately came under sharp criticism from Second Amendment advocates.

In a closely watched en banc ruling, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California law that requires a gun owner to show “good cause” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public. What constitutes good cause is left up to county sheriffs, and the 7-4 decision overturns a ruling by a three-judge panel that said the requirements adopted by sheriffs in San Diego and Yolo counties were unconstitutional.

“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,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in a 52-page opinion for the majority.

But in the absence of a blanket Second Amendment right, legislators have the power to pass “any prohibition or restriction a state may choose” on the carrying of concealed guns, said Judge Fletcher, an appointee of President Clinton.

Federal appeals courts have upheld similar restrictive “good reason” requirements in New Jersey, New York and Maryland.

An ongoing case is challenging a similar requirement in the District of Columbia. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Thursday stayed a lower-court ruling that banned the city from enforcing its requirements.

Dissenting 9th Circuit judges were sharply critical of the majority’s decision to address only the concealed-carry restrictions. Judge Consuelo M. Callahan wrote that the limitations set up and knocked down “an elaborate straw argument.”

The county policies in California for those applying for concealed-carry licenses “are tantamount to complete bans on the Second Amendment right to bear arms outside the home for self-defense, and are therefore unconstitutional,” wrote Judge Callahan, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Among the plaintiffs in the case are Edward Peruta of San Diego County and Adam Richards of Yolo County, who sought to carry concealed firearms for self-defense but were denied concealed-carry licenses in 2009 after they were unable to show good cause. Their challenge was backed by major gun rights organizations and opposed by national gun control advocates.

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