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Court Strikes Down California's Concealed Carry Restrictions

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California's restrictive concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit rules today, saying they are in direct conflict with the Second Amendment, as noted at Reason 24/7 earlier and in an earlier blog post by Damon Root.

In its ruling, the court wrote that "to forbid nearly all forms of public arms bearing would be to destroy the right to bear arms entirely." California issues concealed carry permits on a "may issue" basis, meaning that in many counties, citizens must apply to the county's sheriff department and show "good cause" to have a CCW. A majority of states have a "shall issue" rule, which forces local governments to justify the denial of a permit by citing a criminal record, mental health issue, or some other potential public safety risk.

Approximately 0.1% of California citizens have CCWs, which is almost 20 times lower than in the average shall-issue state, a statistic that supports the court's opinion that the "good cause" rule is destroying, or at least severely hindering, the right to bear arms.

Reason TV covered this issue in 2011, when Gov. Jerry Brown upset California gun rights activists by signing a bill banning the practice of "open carry," in which one wears an unloaded, holstered gun on the outside of the clothing. Open carry gained popularity in some parts of California, including San Diego county, the county targeted in the suit, precisely because of the bans on concealed carry.

In the above video, California Assembly member Anthony Portantino, the author of the open carry ban, explained his rationale for prohibiting open carry to Reason TV:

"Just because one person is comfortable with their weapon doesn't mean that gives that person the right to infringe on the rights of other people who aren't comfortable."

For now, Portantino need not worry about Californians being made uncomfortable by the open display of firearms in public places, as the open carry "loophole" he worked so hard to close is gone. But in its absence, a giant concealed carry portal just blew open. 

The full ruling is available here.