Gun control and gun rights groups battle over rehearing in California carry case

Close to two dozen groups submitted their arguments last week in the fight over whether Californians should be allowed to carry firearms in public for self defense.

The case, Peruta V. San Diego, challenged Sheriff Bill Gore’s may-issue handgun carry permit policy, which a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel of three judges last month deemed unconstitutional. A simple self defense claim was not enough to acquire a carry permit in San Diego County.

Since then, several parties have called for a rehearing, including the state’s attorney general and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Brady argued that the 2-1 decision by the panel stating the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun outside of the home for self defense oversteps previous court decisions like that of D.C. v. Heller in 2008, which recognized the right only in “defense of hearth and home.”

But attorney Chuck Michel — representing primary plaintiff Edward Peruta and others — argues the panel’s decision upholds the Second Amendment beyond one’s doorstep.

“Our clients will continue to oppose the efforts of the Attorney General and the gun ban lobby to overturn this landmark ruling so they can continue to deny people the opportunity to exercise the right that over 40 states now recognize and protect,” Michel told earlier this month.    

Gun control advocates argue that carry permits limit the number of guns on the street, which reduces the number of dangerous weapons carried in public. Gore’s “good cause” requirement on the issuance of carry permits placed reasonable limitations on the number concealed weapons permits issued in the name of public safety, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence argued in its filing.

After the panel issued its decision, Gore publicly stated he would comply with the judges and wouldn’t seek a rehearing.

“Since becoming Sheriff, I have always maintained that it is the legislature’s responsibility to make the laws, and the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret them and their constitutionality. Law enforcement’s role is to uphold and enforce the law,” Gore wrote.

The Calguns and Second Amendment foundations filed an amicus brief, stating there should be no en banc rehearing since the sheriff — the local authority on permit issuance — pulled out and that the state and attorney general have no say on the matter.  Since the state has no authority to defend the case, the gun rights groups argue, it should be dismissed and the panel’s decision should stand.

California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation argued in its “friend of the court” brief that “there is little to gain from rehearing en banc, which will only prolong the plaintiffs’ five-year struggle to vindicate their constitutional rights.”

The lawsuit was initially filed after Gore’s office denied Peruta a carry permit, which the videographer applied for so he could protect his camera equipment while working in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

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