Ninth Circuit: Americans Don't Have The Right To Carry Concealed Firearms In Public

Posted: Jun 09, 2016 3:22 PM

It was not a good day for gun rights, folks. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Americans do not have the right to carry concealed firearms in public under the Second Amendment, and that personal protection did not satisfy the “good reason” provision for the issuance of a carry permit either (via WSJ):

The San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 7-4 ruling, upheld a California law requiring residents to show “good cause” for carrying a concealed handgun.

Under the California law, personal safety alone doesn't qualify as good cause, which is defined by county sheriffs. The plaintiffs, gun owners seeking licenses to carry their weapons concealed, said the policies in San Diego and Yolo counties where they live violated their Second Amendment rights.

“We hold that the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, for the seven-judge majority.

Lawmakers are free to enact “any prohibition or restriction a state may choose” on the carrying of concealed guns, Judge Fletcher said.

A Second Amendment right to carry a firearm openly in public may exist, but the Supreme Court hasn't answered that question, Judge Fletcher wrote.


Many gun-law experts, Second Amendment scholars and others expect the law on concealed-carry outside the home ultimately will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has so far turned away several opportunities to take up the issue.

This was an en banc ruling from the court, which went against the panel decision in 2014, where a 2-1 decision stated that the Second Amendment gave Americans the right to carry firearms in public, and that the “good reason” provision was unconstitutional (via SF Chronicle 2/13/14):

In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said San Diego County violates the Constitution's Second Amendment by requiring residents to show "good cause" - and not merely the desire to protect themselves - to obtain a concealed-weapons permit.

State law requires applicants to demonstrate good cause, as well as good moral character, to carry concealed handguns, while leaving the permit process up to each city and county. The ruling, if it stands, would require local governments to issue permits to anyone of good moral character who wants to carry a concealed gun for self-protection.

"The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain said in the majority opinion.

Given the split decision, it should increase the possibility that the Supreme Court could decide the constitutional issues concerning carrying concealed firearms in public and the “good reason” provision. The Court rejected to hear arguments on two previous cases that dealt with concealed carry and good reason provisions in 2013 and 2014. Maybe they’ll be more inclined to hear arguments with this split at the lower federal level. Time will tell.