Ninth Circuit decision affirms right to bear arms outside the home

evought's picture

The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the court with jurisdiction over the Western United States) released a decision today (PDF) in Peruta v. San Diego striking down a California requirement for showing "good cause" to obtain a firearm carry permit, affirming that to "bear arms" is as much of a protected right as keeping them. The decision is discussed in the Washington Post. The decision creates a split between various federal district courts and almost guarantees review by the Supreme Court.
The 9th Circuit decision does not argue that government may not create reasonable restrictions on how arms may be carried in public nor that permits may not be required, but rather than any such regulations are subject to strict scruity and may not create an effective barrier to lawful carry by law-abiding citizens. As such, the decision very closely supports the official policy of the Sheriff's Auxiliary toward the Right To Keep and Bear Arms as outlined in my commentary on the Johns Hopkins gun policy paper:

  1. It is our goal to encourage and facilitate the lawful bearing of or ready access to arms by trained individuals who are well-dispersed in the population. This policy flows directly from our mission to improve citizen response to emergencies and from citizen ownership of both civil defense and law enforcement. The word trained must take into account not just the mechanical skills but also the legal and ethical knowledge to understand when the use of violence is lawful, justified, and effective but should not imply a specific required training curriculum, training source, or narrow religious doctrine.
  2. We are required under our oaths of service to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens, including the Right To Keep and Bear Arms (RTKBA) as protected by the 2nd Amendment and Missouri Article I Section 23.
  3. Enforcement of laws prohibiting possession of firearms through legitimate due process (e.g. violent felons and adjudicated insane) is a legitimate purview of government, a common law and statutory responsibility of our served agency, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.

The text of the decision also supports my contention in commentary on the Johns Hopkins White Paper that a statistical analysis of whether gun control might 'make us safer' is simply not relevant in the context of enumerated rights even if it were true:

Understanding the scope of the right is not just necessary, it is key to our analysis. For if self-defense outside the home is part of the core right to “bear arms” and the California regulatory scheme prohibits the exercise of that right, no amount of interest-balancing under a heightened form of means-ends scrutiny can justify San Diego County’s policy. See Heller, 554 U.S. at 634 (“The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.”).

Hopefully this decision will move in the direction of a coherent national case-law in support of these principles.


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