Peruta v. County of San Diego began when the San Diego Sheriff’s Office denied a man’s application for concealed carry permit, because he did not show “good cause” for the permit. The applicant responded by suing San Diego County, alleging that the “good cause,” requirement violated the Second Amendment. The district court upheld San Diego’s permitting scheme but on appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the “good cause,” requirement violated the Second Amendment. San Diego County Sheriff’s office decided not to appeal.
The Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, together with Lawyers for a Safer America partner, Hogan Lovells, moved to intervene, after which the State of California also intervened. After a three judge panel held that Brady lacked standing to intervene, we moved for, and were granted, en banc review. On March 26th the Ninth Circuit issued an order vacated the order denying the motions to intervene and overturned the panel’s decision that the permitting scheme was unconstitutional pending a hearing by the full Circuit panel. At the hearing on June 16, the full panel seemed most concerned about the scope of the Second Amendment right outside the home and whether or not that right, if it exists, applies the same in rural and urban areas.
The decision in Peruta has the potential to change the Second Amendment landscape more than any case since Heller. In Heller, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment included the right to keep arms in the home for self-defense, but it left an open question; is there a Second Amendment right to carry guns outside the home? Right now, Peruta is the case best positioned to answer that question, especially because the Supreme Court recently denied cert in another case, Jackson, which would have given the court an opportunity to consider the scope of the Second Amendment self-defense right. Interestingly, Scalia filed a lengthy dissent, indicating he would have welcomed a chance to hear this case. As we await the Ninth Circuit’s decision, encourage your friends and colleagues to join Lawyers for a Safer America to advocate for a common sense interpretation of the Second Amendment.