February 22, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: What’s on Second? The Ninth. Gun rights advance in California.

Before concluding that the “good cause” policy impermissibly burdened Peruta’s Second Amendment right, the judges undertook an extensive historical inquiry to determine that the Second Amendment does indeed protect the right to carry guns outside the home. Other appeals courts, notably the Seventh Circuit, have reached the same conclusion, but the Supreme Court hasn’t yet decided the question. Its two recent Second Amendment landmarks, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010), both dealt with the right to keep arms in one’s own home. It’s likely that a case involving the right to bear arms will eventually reach the high court.

Peruta would make a good test case, because it would allow the justices to establish that right without getting into the weeds of what restrictions on it would be reasonable. The plaintiffs do not challenge the requirements of a training course and “good moral character.” The former is unobjectionable and is required by many states with permissive “shall issue” carry policies. The latter could be applied in questionable ways–would California deny a carry permit to Bill Clinton?–but it doesn’t seem unreasonable on its face.

By contrast, the requirement for “good cause,” at least as interpreted by San Diego County, is flagrantly unreasonable. By stipulating that an applicant must “distinguish” himself “from the mainstream”–that ordinary people need not apply–the county transmutes a right into a privilege or dispensation.


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