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Judge Rejects Concealed-Weapons Permit Protest

SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge ruled that the permits San Diego County issues to carry concealed weapons do not infringe on citizens' constitutional right to bear arms, or their right to travel, equal protection and due process.

Under California law, concealed-weapon permits are issued to applicants who "must be of good moral character, be a resident of or spend substantial time in the county in which they apply, demonstrate good cause and take a firearms course."

Edward Peruta sued San Diego and County Sheriff William Gore on October 23, 2009, claiming that the "good cause" policy is illegal because it provides unequal treatment of similarly situated individuals applying for such permits. Six months later, Peruta filed an amended complaint joined by the California Rifle and Piston Association Foundation and four other San Diegans who applied for, and were denied, licenses to carry concealed weapons.

They claimed that the county violates their right to travel by requiring applicants to reside full time in San Diego before allowing them to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

San Diego had decided that the plaintiffs lacked "good cause" since they could not document any specific threat of harm, but the plaintiffs argued they should carry concealed handguns for self-defense.

The complaint also charged San Diego with giving preferential treatment to members of the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs' Association, a civilian organization that finances projects for the San Diego sheriff's department.

But Chief Judge Irma Gonzalez wrote that the plaintiffs only proved "vagaries in administration," not preferential treatment.

"The government has an important interest in reducing the number of concealed weapons in pubic in order to reduce the risks to other members of the public who use the streets and go to public accommodations," Gonzalez wrote.

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