The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Calif. Attorney General to Fight Concealed Firearm Ruling

Attorney General Kamala Harris plans to appeal the Ninth Circuit's ruling that requires counties to grant law-abiding residents permits to carry concealed weapons.

If the federal appellate court's decision isn't overturned, then sheriffs in California may be obligated to issue concealed weapon permits simply because the applicant requests it, according to the Bay Area News Group.

What will the attorney general's appeal likely discuss? And what are the current concealed gun laws in California?

Appeal of the Ninth Circuit's Decision

In the Ninth Circuit's decision, the court held that San Diego County's application of the "good cause" requirement for residents to obtain a concealed weapon permit violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, SFGate reports.

San Diego County's permit policy required residents to provide evidence that they were in need of more protection than the "mainstream" and the sheriff's office asked for documentation (e.g. restraining orders as evidence of danger) from those who wished to carry guns for personal protection. The Ninth Circuit struck down the requirement and held that local governments must issue permits to anyone of good moral character who wants to carry a concealed gun for their protection, SFGate reports.

In the appeal, the Attorney General Harris will likely argue that the danger to public safety by allowing anyone with "good moral character" to carry a concealed weapon in public outweighs the individual's interest in self-defense. She may rebut that allowing permits to be granted only when there's a special need for protecting oneself could limit the number of guns on the streets and protect citizens as well as law enforcement.

California's Concealed Gun Law

While it's illegal to openly carry guns in California, the ability to carry a concealed weapon varies by county. Under the California Penal Code, each county's sheriff department is responsible for issuing a "concealed carry" permit.

In order to obtain a permit, the applicant must show:

  • Good moral character.
  • Show that good cause exists for issuing the license.
  • Applicant is a resident of the county or his principal place of business is there.
  • Applicant has completed a training course.

What's considered good moral character and good cause is determined by the local sheriff and each county has a different standard. However, if the Ninth Circuit's decision isn't overturned, the threshold for getting the permit could be much lower.

The Ninth Circuit's ruling currently applies only San Diego County's policy.

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