SCOTUS deals a blow to Second Amendment in Peruta v. California

Wait a minute… I thought we were supposed to be winning these cases now.

A huge disappointment came out of the Supreme Court today when the justices declined to hear the appeal of the case of Peruta v. California, a potentially game changing case when it comes to the right to carry firearms, particularly concealed, in public. The LA Times has the brief summary, including the fact that there was, unusually, a written dissent to the decision published.

The Supreme Court has rejected a major 2nd Amendment challenge to California’s strict limits on carrying concealed guns in public.

The justices turned away an appeal from gun rights advocates who contended most law-abiding gun owners in San Diego, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area are being wrongly denied permits to carry a weapon when they leave home…

In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court’s action “reflects a distressing trend” in the treatment of the 2nd Amendment as a disfavored right. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined his dissent.

Thomas clearly has it right, since this is once again a case where the courts are allowing the states to regularly impose far greater limitations on Second Amendment rights than virtually any of the others. By declining to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court has a allowed a decision from the 9th Circuit (where else) to stand, supporting those limitations in California.

This was a key case challenging the right of the states to declare that citizens have to show “good cause” before exercising their natural right to keep and bear arms. California passed a law indicating that concealed carry permits would not be issued to anyone unless they could prove that they faced some level of danger above and beyond that of the average citizen. Earlier this year, William Gore, the Sheriff of San Diego County, wrote an op-ed for the San Diego Union Tribune in which he explained the (heavily flawed, in my opinion) reason for the law’s existence.

The “good cause” requirement is at the heart of the Peruta case. The Sheriff’s Department has, since well before my time as sheriff, defined “good cause” as a set of circumstances that distinguishes the applicant from other members of the general public and causes him or her to be placed in harm’s way.

The issue in the Peruta lawsuit is really whether California’s “good cause” requirement can be satisfied by an applicant who simply states that he or she wants to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense, without providing anything more to the issuing agency.

The federal district court held that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s interpretation of good cause under California law was not unconstitutional and dismissed the applicants’ case.

The applicants then appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the state of California eventually stepped in to defend the constitutionality of its concealed licensing statutes.

Today’s result throws Heller and a number of other decisions into reverse gear, at least potentially. The Peruta decision seems to apply specifically to concealed carry, but if you’re going to release the “good cause” genie out of the bottle, who knows where that train ride ends? Openly carrying a firearm actually only allows you slightly faster access to it if the need for self-defense arises. This hands an incredible amount of dangerous power to states and municipalities since they can now make themselves the arbiters of what qualifies as “good cause” for virtually any request. Will you have to be someone who has already been attacked once in order to qualify in the cities and more liberal states? And what if you were “only” attacked with fists or a knife or a bat? Perhaps such assaults wouldn’t qualify either.

If you live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate and regular assaults, I suppose that won’t make any difference either. After all, as the Sheriff said, you need to be able to distinguish yourself from other members of the general public in terms of being placed in harm’s way. If everyone on the West Side of Baltimore is equally liable to be murdered there on any given night, then nobody is particularly distinguishable as being at more risk than anyone else, right?

We need to turn over a number of additional of seats on this court. I have little more to say than this is a disgusting result.