Public Safety & Justice

Gun Ruling Could Force California Cities to Revisit Concealed-Carry Rules

February 14, 2014

A federal appeals court on Thursday struck down a requirement by San Diego County that residents show "good cause" to carry a concealed firearm, a ruling that could force local governments across California to revisit the way they license handguns.

A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, acting on a 2009 lawsuit, ruled in a 2-1 decision that San Diego County's restrictions amounted to an unconstitutional infringement on citizens' Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

Coupled with a California state law that largely bans the open carrying of firearms in public, San Diego County's "good cause" rules on concealed weapons effectively bar residents from carrying a gun altogether, the panel said.

"In California, the only way that the typical, responsible, law-abiding citizen can carry a weapon in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is with a concealed carry permit. And, in San Diego County, that option has been taken off the table," Justice Thomas O'Scannlain wrote in the 77-page opinion for the majority.

California, which has enacted some of the nation's strictest gun laws, 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.

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 "good cause."

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