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Media Alerts - Peruta v. County of San Diego
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March 6, 2014
  Peruta v. County of San Diego
Headline: Ninth Circuit holds that the Second Amendment protects a law-abiding citizen's right to bear arms outside of the home for purposes of self-defense.

Area of Law: Second Amendment; Federal Civil Procedure

Issue Presented: Whether San Diego County's concealed-carry license procedures violate a law-abiding citizen's right to carry a firearm for self-defense under the Second Amendment in light of the County's "good cause" permitting requirement and California's overall restrictions on carrying a concealed or open handgun in public locations.

Brief Summary: Plaintiff, a San Diego resident whose application for a concealed-carry license was denied, sued the County of San Diego claiming that the County's refusal to recognize one's concern for personal safety as a qualifying demonstration of "good cause" to obtain a concealed firearm violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court's denial of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and held that the County's policy, requiring a demonstration of circumstances distinguishing an applicant from the mainstream in terms of being in harm's way, was unconstitutional because (1) the right to carry a gun outside of the home for self-defense falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and (2) the County's "good cause" permitting requirement infringes on that right since typical citizens fearing for their own personal safety cannot distinguish themselves from the mainstream and therefore cannot bear arms for self-defense in light of California's ban on open carry.

Full Opinion: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/da...19/10-56971%20web.pdf

Extended Summary: Plaintiff applied for a license to carry a concealed firearm but the San Diego County sheriff denied his application. To obtain a concealed-carry permit, San Diego County required applicants to demonstrate "good cause" by providing documentation that shows that circumstances distinguish the applicant from the mainstream and cause him/her to be in harm's way. Plaintiff sued San Diego County arguing that its exclusion of a general desire to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense from its definition of "good cause" unconstitutionally burdens citizens' Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Both plaintiff and the County filed motions for summary judgment. The District Court denied plaintiff's motion and granted summary judgment to the County, holding that California had a substantial interest in public safety and that the use of the County's policy as a means of reducing the risk to the public "posed by concealed handguns" outweighed applicants' Second Amendment interests.

The Ninth Circuit applied the two-part inquiry of District of Columbia v. Heller and determined whether having an operable handgun outside of the home for self-defense purposes amounted to "keeping and bearing arms" within the meaning of the Second Amendment and, if so, whether San Diego's "good cause" permitting requirement infringed on that right. In finding that Heller supported the proposition that the ability to carry a gun outside of the home for self-defense fell within the scope of the Second Amendment right, the Ninth Circuit analyzed (1) the historical context of the Second Amendment text, (2) nineteenth and eighteenth century precedent and (3) the plain meaning of the term "bear."

The Court rejected the County's argument that under Heller its concealed-carry restrictions were "presumptively lawful" and held that the San Diego policy "in light of California's licensing scheme as a whole violated the Second Amendment" because it did not permit a typical citizen to have "some form of carry" for self-defense outside of the home since the concealed-carry permit was the only type of permit available in the state. Notwithstanding the exemptions for certain groups, places and situations, the Court found that the San Diego policy destroyed the Second Amendment right to bear arms and was therefore invalid under any level of constitutional scrutiny. The dissent found that the majority's opinion exceeded the scope of the issue presented and concluded that the narrow issue before the court was whether the Second Amendment protected the concealed carrying of handguns in public. According to the dissent, the act of carrying concealed weapons in public does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment and the San Diego policy was presumptively lawful under Heller. Alternatively, even if conceal carry implicated the Second Amendment, the dissent found that the policy was constitutional under intermediate scrutiny because the County had a substantial interest in public safety and its policy was narrowly tailored to promoting public safety by reducing the number of guns in public circulation.

Panel: Judges O'Scannlain, Thomas, and Callahan

Date of Issued Opinion: February 13, 2014

Docket Number: 3:09-cv-02371-IEG-BGS

Decided: Reversed

Case Alert Author: Monique Midose

Author of Opinion: Judge O'Scannlain

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor:
Professor Ryan T. Williams

Edited: 03/13/2014 at 11:58 AM by Ryan Williams

    Posted By: Ryan Williams @ 03/06/2014 01:14 PM     9th Circuit  

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