A divided federal appeals court has struck down California's concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that California is wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The judges ruled that all law-abiding citizens are entitled to carry concealed weapons outside the home for self-defense purposes.
California state law says anyone who wants a concealed weapons permit must demonstrate "good moral character" and show "good cause." It is left to local governments to determine how the law should be enforced.
But in a case from San Diego County, the Ninth Circuit ruled 2 to 1, the "good cause" requirement infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. If the ruling stands, anyone who wants a concealed weapon permit for self protection would be able to get one.
"We are in the process of reviewing the courts opinion," said Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeffrey Hallock.
He could not immediately provide the number of concealed weapons permits Orange County has issued, but he said it runs "into the hundreds."
Pursuant to state law, Orange County currently requires proof that the applicant has good cause and is of good moral character, according to its application posted online.
"Part of the application process is to provide references," Hallock said. "We reach out to those people."
He acknowledged the process is subjective: "What one person would believe is good cause, another would not. Some counties are probably more liberal than others."
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The divided three judge panel disagreed with two other federal appeals courts that have upheld permit rules similar to California's.
The U.S. Supreme Court often takes cases when federal appeals courts issue conflicting rulings.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that law-abiding citizens can keep handguns in the home for self-defense purposes, but didn't address whether that right extends outside the home.