Appeals court to reconsider ruling against San Diego gun-control rule

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris had asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a panel's decision loosening rules about gun ownership. The court Thursday agreed to hear the case.
(Richard Vogel / AP)

A federal appeals court agreed Thursday to reconsider a decision that made it easier to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris had appealed the 2-1 decision in February 2014 by a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down a policy of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The department had required applicants to show “good cause” why they needed a concealed weapon permit.

The 2-1 decision said the policy was overly restrictive.

Rather than begin issuing permits under the rules as set out by the panel’s decision, the Sheriff’s Department opted to hold permit applications in abeyance until the issue is decided in the courts.


The department currently has 2,090 permit applications on hold.

Harris, calling the case “one of exceptional importance,” asked that the 2-1 ruling be heard by 11 judges. No timeline was given by the court in its notice that the case would be heard.

The panel did not strike down the law, only the the way it was being interpreted by the Sheriff’s Department.

Although each county is able to set its own concealed-weapon permit standards, the ruling was seen as a precedent in other gun rights cases.

Now, the ruling cannot be used as precedent in any court of the 9th Circuit, the court said, until it is decided anew.

The lead challenger in the case was Edward Peruta, a journalist who said his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms was violated by the county’s “good cause” standard.

Gun-owner advocates have seen the case as a good way to get the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down “open carry” laws that restrict the right of gun owners to display their weapons in public.

Chuck Michel, attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., said that regardless of which way the court rules, the case will most likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.


“In the over 40 states that allow citizens to get the license that San Diego and several other cities withhold, violent crime has gone down,” Michel said, “and everyone has benefited from the deterrent effect of licensed carry by law abiding citizens.”

Jonathan Lowy, director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, lauded the court’s decision to reconsider the panel’s ruling.

“Californians are safer now that the court has vacated this erroneous decision and reinstated reasonable regulations to protect families from loaded, hidden guns in restaurants, parks, streets and other public places,” he said.