Supreme Court kicks California 'may-issue' challenge down the road once more

The now fully-staffed U.S. Supreme Court did not act Monday on a legal challenge to how California grants concealed carry permits.

The case involves a San Diego man, Edward Peruta, whose saga to obtain a permit in that county started in 2009 and has been in federal court ever since his subsequent refusal because he could not show “good cause” as to why he felt the need to carry a gun. In the hands of the high court since January, Peruta has now been relisted twice and rescheduled four times without action.

Supporting the litigation since its arrival at the Supreme Court are briefs filed by 26 state attorneys general, nine governors, and a host of Second Amendment and conservative groups.

Rejected at first by a U.S. District Court, Peruta’s case drew national attention in 2014 when a split three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that self-defense was a good enough reason for granting a permit, stating that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to carry a gun in public.

As San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, the defendant in the challenge, declined to appeal and other cases met with comparable results, it appeared that California’s strict “may-issue” policy of granting permits to carry was on the ropes.

However, as gun control groups and then California Attorney General Kamala Harris mounted challenges to the ruling, the Ninth Circuit voted in 2015 to set aside and rehear the case in front of a rarely granted 11-judge en banc panel. Last June, that panel sided 7-4 with the earlier District Court ruling and set aside the 2014 gun rights victory holding that the right of a member of the public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment.

Now, even with Justice Neil Gorsuch added to the understrength court last month to fill the spot left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court has still not acted on the case.

Some legal scholars reading the tea leaves think in the end they will not.

“The justices remain unlikely to take the Peruta case, as they have avoided every other right to carry case in recent years,” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told “Perhaps Gorsuch will add a distinctive new voice in the deliberations that will persuade the Court to take Peruta. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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