The Ninth Circuit takes on the Second Amendment

(Update: The Ninth Circuit has posted audio of the arguments in Peruta v. County of San Diego, Richards v. Prieto, and Baker v. Kealoha.)

This Thursday, December 6th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will consider an issue of critical importance to the safety of our communities: whether the Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in public places.

Three cases being heard on Thursday morning involve challenges to state laws in California and Hawaii that require an applicant for a concealed carry license to show a legitimate need to carry a weapon.

We’ve been supporting defense counsel with our Second Amendment expertise because we know how important these cases are. Favorable decisions here could reaffirm law enforcement’s ability to protect public safety by limiting the number of people carrying hidden, loaded handguns in California and Hawaii.

The three cases being heard by the Ninth Circuit are Peruta v. County of San Diego (challenging San Diego County’s application of the California law), Richards v. Prieto (challenging Yolo County’s application of the same law), and Baker v. Kealoha (challenging Hawaii’s law).

For more about these cases, read our amicus briefs in Peruta and Richards. If you live in the Bay Area, oral arguments are open to the public, and the Ninth Circuit courthouse is located at 95 7th Street in San Francisco. On Friday, audio and video of the arguments will be available on the Ninth Circuit’s web site.

These cases will undoubtedly have nationwide significance in this emerging area of Second Amendment jurisprudence. The Second Circuit recently upheld New York’s discretionary concealed carry law in a great decision, and similar cases are also pending in the Third and Fourth Circuits.

Law Center Files Amicus Brief in Important Ninth Circuit Second Amendment Case

States that have strong laws regulating the carrying of concealed weapons currently face a number of significant lawsuits challenging these laws on Second Amendment grounds. On September 30, the Law Center urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject a Second Amendment challenge to California’s concealed carry law in an amicus brief in Richards v. PrietoRichards is the second of a number of similar challenges to laws nationwide to be reviewed by a federal appellate court, following Peruta v. County of San Diego.

The Law Center’s brief was joined by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. The brief urges the Ninth Circuit to find that the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to possess a loaded, hidden handgun in public, and that the California law is vital to protect the safety of law enforcement and the general public. The Law Center is very grateful to Covington & Burling LLP for authoring the brief.

Bill Banning Open Carry of Handguns Passes California Assembly

Yesterday, the Law Center’s-supported bill AB 144 (Portantino) overwhelmingly passed the California Assembly. The bill would prohibit the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places, and has received support from law enforcement statewide. Open carrying intimidates the public, wastes law enforcement resources, and increases the risk of injury and death due to the accidental or intentional use of firearms.

AB 144 now proceeds to the State Senate. For more on California firearms legislation, read our Summary of 2011 California Firearms Legislation.

Federal Court Rejects Second Amendment Challenge to Concealed Handgun Licensing Law

In another victory yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California upheld Yolo County’s application of California’s concealed carry licensing law, which requires an applicant for a license to demonstrate “good cause.”

In Richards v. Prieto, the district court soundly rejected the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, stating that “Heller cannot be read to invalidate Yolo County’s concealed weapon policy, as the Second Amendment does not create a fundamental right to carry a concealed weapon in public.” The court concluded that “regulating concealed firearms is an essential part of Yolo County’s efforts to maintain public safety and prevent both gun-related crime and, most importantly, the death of its citizens.”

The Law Center congratulates Yolo County on this important ruling. The Law Center is proud to have supported the County during this litigation, providing technical expertise and support during the briefing process. Plaintiffs have appealed the Richards decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Law Center expects to file an amicus brief in support of the County in those proceedings.