Recognizing the Freedom to Conceal

“…the carrying of an operable handgun outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense, though subject to traditional restrictions, constitutes “bear[ing] Arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment.”

With these words, a 2-1 majority of a three judge panel of the historically liberal Ninth Circuit Court surprised many when it recently ruled that California’s Concealed Carry law as implemented by San Diego and many other California counties was unconstitutional. The legal reasoning centered on the majority’s extension of the US Supreme Court Heller decision that confirmed Americans 2nd Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”. While the Heller case centered primarily on the first part of the phrase, keep, the majority in the Peruta et al v. County of San Diego; William D. Gore, individually and in his capacity as Sheriff case ruled that the plain text reading of the Constitution as well as the precedents cited in Heller supported the just as important right to “bear” arms in a similar manner. The majority reasoned that ability of otherwise legally-able individuals to carry weapons even in the absence of a specific threat outweighed any governmental interest in limiting the carrying of weapons in public. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has chosen not to appeal this ruling meaning that it will become the standard for the issuance of permits to carry here in California.

Residents in Sacramento County will see little change since the standard for Concealed Carry permit issuance outlined in the Ninth Circuit ruling closely parallels the current practice of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department in its decision-making process on the issuance of such permits.

“It has been the policy of Sheriff Jones since his election in 2010 that individuals requesting concealed carry permits for personal protection of themselves and their families be potentially eligible for such permits,” stated Sgt. Jason Ramos, assistant to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is also in charge of the unit responsible for review of requests for such permits. “Like the San Diego Department, we do have specific qualification guidelines for issuance of the permits, but unlike the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, we do not require the existence of a specific threat.”

While the US Supreme Court has not specifically addressed the issue in an opinion, Court observers see three cases currently under consideration for review where it may choose to do so.


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