Peruta v. County of San Diego

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 02-13-2014
  • Case #: 10-56971
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O’Scannlain for the Court; Circuit Judge Callahan; Dissent by Circuit Judge Thomas
  • Full Text Opinion

San Diego’s “good cause” policy allowing concealed public carry of firearms, which does not allow permits for those with ordinary self-defense concerns, is an impermissible abridgment of the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense.

San Diego County (“the County”) has a “good cause” requirement in their concealed-carry permitting policy, which requires an applicant to show that he has a particularized need to carry a firearm; a generalized concern for “one’s personal safety alone is not considered good cause.” Plaintiffs are residents of the County, joined by the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation, who are not otherwise prohibited from keeping firearms but were denied concealed-carry permits by the sheriff’s department for lack of substantiation of good cause. Edward Peruta challenged the policy as an infringement of his Second Amendment rights. On cross motions for summary judgment, the district court sided with the County, applying intermediate scrutiny, and Peruta appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The panel looked to the two-step approach formulated in District of Columbia v. Heller to determine if the regulation addressed conduct that was “within the meaning of the Second Amendment” and whether the regulation infringed on that right. The panel first undertook a detailed historical analysis, concluding that the right to bear arms includes “the carrying of a handgun outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense.” The panel held that if the burden goes so far as to completely prohibit the exercise of that core right, the regular interest-balancing approach of the scrutiny framework would be inapplicable. The panel then looked to the “good cause” requirement of the County’s regulation to determine whether it infringed on the right. The panel found that the County’s regulation, taken together with California law limiting most public weapon carry to permitted concealed-carry, effectively destroyed the right to bear arms. Thus, the panel held that application of intermediate scrutiny in the lower court was error and that the County’s permitting policy was per se invalid. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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