The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Second Amendment does not protect a right for ordinary citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, a major decision on the constitutional boundaries of gun rights that could elicit review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his 52-page majority opinion in Peruta v. County of San Diego, Judge William Fletcher laid out an exhaustive history of British and American laws prohibiting concealed weapons, tracing a continuous thread from a decree by Edward I to his sheriffs in 1299 to a series of state supreme-court decisions in the 19th century.
“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment—whatever the scope of that protection may be—simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” Fletcher wrote.
The 7-4 ruling upheld California’s broad restrictions on concealed-carry use in their entirety. Under current law, California residents must show “good cause” when obtaining a concealed-carry license from their county sheriff. What constitutes “good cause” is defined by policies outlined by each sheriff.
Edward Peruta and his fellow plaintiffs sought concealed-carry licenses from sheriffs in San Diego County and Yolo County in 2009, but were denied under the good-cause requirement. Backed by state and national gun-rights groups, they asked the courts to overturn the statute under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.