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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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San Diego Gun Law Will Go to En Banc 9th Circuit

(CN) - Found to have unfairly restricted concealed-weapons possession, San Diego must soon defend its law before an 11-judge panel of the en banc 9th Circuit.

The rehearing order Thursday sets aside a February 2014 decision from a three-judge panel that San Diego's ban violates the Second Amendment.

A safety advocate that intervened in the case on behalf of San Diego applauded the development.

"Californians are safer now that the court has vacated this erroneous decision and reinstated reasonable regulations to protect families from loaded, hidden guns in restaurants, parks, streets, and other public places," Jonathan Lowry, director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement. "The Second Amendment does not force the people of California to adopt the corporate gun lobby's 'guns everywhere' vision."

Edward Peruta, a journalist who says he needs to carry a gun to protect himself, brought the San Diego case after the county denied him a permit for a concealed-carry license in 2009.

In a tough-on-guns state like California, gun owners cannot carry either open or concealed handguns in public without a permit. To get a permit, most people who are not armored-vehicle guards or retired federal officers must show a "good cause" as to why they should be allowed to carry a handgun outside the home.

Because San Diego County's list of such good causes does not include self-defense, Peruta, along with several other frustrated applicants and the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation, claimed in a federal lawsuit that the permitting process violated the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms.

U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez ruled for the county, finding that the state and the county had a substantial interest in public safety and that the permitting process legally served that interest.

The three-judge appeals panel was divided in its reversal last year, finding that the "good cause" requirement effectively prohibits the "typical responsible, law-abiding citizen" from bearing arms in public for self-defense.

Paving the way for that decision was Heller v. District of Columbia, a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the justices held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for "traditionally lawful" purposes.

Heller established that "the keeping and bearing of arms is, and has always been, an individual right," and that "the right is, and has always been, oriented to the end of self-defense," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the majority last yhear.

Chief Judge Sidney Thomas had dissented.

Thursday's order means that the earlier ruling can no longer be cited as precedent in any 9th Circuit court.

The en banc hearing is set for late June.

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