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Suit filed to permit Californians to carry guns openly in public

A lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks to block a California law that prevents most people from carrying guns openly in public.
(Al Behrman/Associated Press)

After losing a challenge to restrictions on carrying concealed firearms, gun owners in California filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to block a state law that prevents most people from carrying guns openly in public.

The lawsuit contends that the ban on openly carrying a gun in public must be struck down now that a federal appeals court has upheld a policy that denies concealed firearm permits to most people in urban counties. The suit was filed by four Los Angeles County residents and the California Pistol and Rifle Assn.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in June that county sheriffs may require applicants to show specific reasons, such a direct threat, to obtain a permit for a concealed gun. The court on Monday rejected a request to reconsider that ruling.

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Large urban counties, including Los Angeles, routinely deny such permits. Small rural counties generally grant them without requiring applicants to justify a specific need.

L.A. County requires residents to show “convincing evidence of a clear and present danger” to obtain a permit to carry a concealed gun, the new lawsuit said.

“Accordingly, the vast majority of the population cannot satisfy this discretionary standard, and therefore cannot obtain a license to publicly carry a firearm,” the suit said.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles federal district court, named Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and Los Angeles County Sheriff James McDonnell as defendants.

Another lawsuit challenging California’s ban on openly carrying guns is already pending in the 9th Circuit. The new suit is being financed by the California gun group, an arm of the National Rifle Assn.

Gun advocates are unlikely to appeal the 9th Circuit decision on concealed firearms because the Supreme Court has been deadlocked on contentious matters since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Congress has refused to act on President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, who died in February, leaving the high court with only eight justices.

maura.dolan@latimes.com

Twitter: @mauradolan

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