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california vs peruta

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' dissenting opinion in the Peruta v. California writ of certiorari denial contained a statement that summarizes the consistent back and forth on gun rights in courts and legislative assemblies.

"The Court’s decision to deny certiorari in this case reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right," Thomas said.

Supreme Court cases reflect legal matters that strike at the heart of constitutional law, which is the foundation of American rights and the supreme law of the land.

The case stemmed from San Diego County and presented California's strict gun laws, but what did this case mean to the American people?

Peruta v. County of San Diego and how the Ninth Circuit Court handled it

peruta v san diego county

It's important to review what happened initially in Peruta v. County of San Diego and William D. Gore.

The issue in the case was whether or not the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution protects the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, but it fell short of landing in the highest court in the U.S. and resulted in its previous ruling being held in place.

The 2008 D.C. v. Heller case established the right for individuals to own and carry a firearm in the home, but not once they step out the front door, and it was later extended to the rest of the U.S. through the 2010 McDonald v. Chicago court case.

In San Diego's concealed carry permit policy, CCW permit applicants are required to show "good cause " through "a set of circumstances that distinguish the applicant from the mainstream and cause him to be placed in harm's way." It's a may-issue permit.

As residents of San Diego County, the plaintiffs sued on the basis that open carry was barred and concealed carry permits had prohibitive restrictions, thereby removing California residents' ability to carry firearms in public for self-defense and violating the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

They wanted declaratory and injunctive relief to stop their sheriff from using the restrictive "good cause" requirement.

The Ninth Circuit court referenced the Heller case and relied on prior case law to come to the conclusion that the right to bear arms did apply to an operable handgun that may be carried outside the home for self-defense.

The Ninth Circuit panel found that a near-total prohibition on bearing arms was unconstitutional, but did not hold that may-issue requirements are invalid.

The court opinion held that the San Diego County Sheriff's interpretation of "good cause" was unconstitutional. All counties in California were required to determine "self-defense" as a good cause to qualify for a CCW permit.

The court also found that "the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in the public" and declined to rule on the right to open carry in public.

From there, it made its way to a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court, which is a judgment system of whether or not the Supreme Court is willing and capable of hearing the request and trying the case.

Here's a related blog topic on how national concealed carry reciprocity legislation can be modeled: LEOSA Is A Model For Future Gun Rights Policy.

The Peruta v. California case could have had a national impact on gun rights

gun rights

On many counts, Second Amendment jurisprudence is in its infancy, and the Peruta v. California case would have established a more holistic framework for gun rights in the U.S.

The Supreme Court should have at minimum accepted and heard the presented arguments.

Second Amendment case law only recently established the individual right to bear arms with the 2008 Heller case, and even then it was in "hearth and home."

Consider that since the 2010 McDonald v. Chicago case, the Supreme Court has heard not one new Second Amendment case, but in that timeframe has heard arguments in 35 First Amendment cases and 25 Fourth Amendment cases, according to Thomas' opinion statement.

"Even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively. Twenty-six States have asked us to resolve the question presented, and the lower courts have fully vetted the issue. At least four other Courts of Appeals and three state courts of last resort have decided cases regarding the ability of States to regulate the public carry of firearms," Thomas said.

The Heller case found that "self-defense" was the "central component of the [Second Amendment] right itself" and that the definition of the right to "bear arms" was to "wear, bear, or carry upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person."

The U.S. Constitution does not rank or favor one amendment over the other. The First Amendment and Second Amendment are on equal footing, but the unfortunate reality is that one has grown in understanding and application while the other has remained stagnant.

The need for self-defense has never changed, but the perception of the Second Amendment has.

The Bill of Rights is a fundamental list of universal liberties within the United States, and as Henry Ward Beecher said in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, "Liberty is the soul's right to breathe, and when it cannot take a long breath, laws are girdled too tight."

The unfortunate and dismissed reality here is that the Second Amendment right to bear arms in public was smothered by lack of Supreme Court action.

Here are a couple related blogs Bigfoot Gun Belts has published:

Jake Smith  

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.

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