Case Challenging California's Yolo County Gun Carry Permit Law Brought Back from Dead


The Second Amendment Foundation announces some good news today in a long-gestating case challenging the gun carry permit laws of Yolo County, California:

The Second Amendment Foundation and The Calguns Foundation earned a significant victory today when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case of Richards v. Prieto, challenging the handgun carry license issuing policy of Yolo County, California, Sheriff Ed Prieto.

"Today's ruling reinforces the Second Amendment's application to state and local governments, and will help clear the way for more California citizens to exercise their right to bear arms," said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb….

The case was originally filed in 2009 as Sykes v. McGinness, and challenged not only Yolo County's policies, but Sacramento County's then-restrictive practices as well. SAF, Calguns and two private citizens, Adam Richards and Brett Stewart, continued pursuing the case against Yolo County after Sacramento County agreed to relax its policy….

The Richards case was argued at the same time, and to the same panel, that earlier decided Peruta v. County of San Diego, a similar case challenging overly-restrictive carry license policies. Yolo County and Sheriff Prieto argued that their policies were distinguishable from those struck down in Peruta, but apparently the three-judge panel unanimously disagreed.

"The Ninth Circuit's decision moves our Carry License Compliance Initiative forward," explained CGF Executive Director Brandon Combs. "We're already preparing the next phase of litigation to ensure that all law-abiding Californians can exercise their right to bear arms."

Steven Greenhut wrote last month for Reason on the other, more well-known California carry permit case, Peruta v. San Diego.

Second Amendment superlawyer Alan Gura first discussed this case with me in a Reason interview back in 2009.

The 2011 decision that was reversed and remanded today, one that tried to kill the case by claiming "regulating concealed firearms is an essential part of Yolo County's efforts to maintain public safety and prevent both gun-related crime and, most importantly, the death of its citizens. Yolo County's policy is more than rationally related to these legitimate government goals" and that while "the scope of rights under the Second Amendment is ambiguous and no doubt subject to change and evolution over time…even in light of Heller and McDonald, Yolo County's concealed license policy is constitutionally valid." 

Maybe not, and the court will have to reconsider.

The out-now April print issue of Reason has a feature by me on "Five Gun Rights Cases to Watch."