Ninth Circuit: The Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry a gun in public

Via Gabe Malor, who’s already found the tastiest chestnuts in the opinion. The novelty here isn’t the ruling itself but the court issuing it. It’s the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over the west coast and typically leans left thanks to liberal all-stars like Stephen Reinhardt. (He wasn’t part of the panel that heard this one, thankfully.) With today’s ruling, the Ninth joins the Seventh in holding that the Second Amendment, just as it says, includes a right to “bear” arms. States can regulate that right but they can’t ban it altogether. Three other federal appellate courts have ruled the other way, all but guaranteeing that SCOTUS will end up deciding this sooner rather than later. Memo to the Court’s conservatives: Grant cert ASAP, please, before Obama gets another appointment.

The particular statute at issue here was San Diego’s law banning concealed carry. The only way to get a permit there is to show a “unique risk of harm.” Wanting to carry a gun for self-defense without showing a special need isn’t good enough. The Supreme Court’s Heller ruling six years ago already guaranteed the right to possess a gun at home, so the question today was whether limiting carry to one’s own household is a permissible state regulation of the right to bear arms or an impermissible outright prohibition. Given the text of the Amendment, says the Ninth Circuit, the answer is obvious:


If, as the Supremes found in Heller, the Second Amendment is ultimately a right of self-defense then it’s goofy to think that the right can be limited to one’s own home. If anything, the ability to defend yourself is more urgent when you’re not protected by four walls. A little more from the majority’s conclusion:


You can ban open carry or you can ban concealed carry but you can’t ban carry entirely without completely depriving people of their right to “bear.”

Here’s the opinion. A history lesson on America’s long jurisprudential tradition of defending the right to carry begins on page 23; brush up for the next time someone on the left insists that these activist conservative courts have gone rogue in defending gun rights. Big question now: Will this ruling survive? It was heard by a three-judge panel, as is custom for appellate cases. But the entire Ninth Circuit can request an “en banc” hearing of 11 judges, a majority of whom might be liberal, to reconsider it. Probably doesn’t matter either way. This issue is headed to the Supreme Court no matter what the Ninth does.

Exit question: Wendy “Open Carry” Davis must be thrilled at the news, no?