In a decision issued earlier today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the California law conditioning the right of “responsible law-abiding” citizens to carry firearms in public for self-defense purposes on a showing of “good cause” unlawfully restricts Second Amendment rights.

California prohibits the open carry of firearms and imposes limits on concealed carry. In particular, San Diego County requires applicants for concealed carry permits to produce supporting documentation to establish not just that the applicant is concerned for his or her own safety, but that the applicant can identify “circumstances that distinguish [him or her] from the mainstream.”

As the Second Amendment states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Ninth Circuit explained, “[C]arrying weapons in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is a central component of the right to bear arms.” Accordingly, it concluded, “[I]f self-defense outside the home is part of the core right to ‘bear arms’ and the California regulatory scheme prohibits the exercise of that right, no amount of interest balancing under a heightened form of means-ends scrutiny can justify San Diego’s policy.”

The Ninth Circuit’s decision contributes to a split in the circuits that makes Supreme Court review likely.

The Seventh Circuit is on the side on the Ninth, but the Second, Third, and Fourth go the other way.

A petition for certiorari seeking review of the Third Circuit’s decision has been filed in the Supreme Court. In addition, a petition for certiorari that raises the question whether there is a Second Amendment right to bear arms in public has been distributed for the Supreme Court’s conference on February 21.

The right to “bear arms” is an individual right that should have some meaning, but States and localities are entirely too prone to give it as little scope as they can get away with.

The Ninth Circuit gets it right in holding that California cannot both bar open carry and crimp the ability of law-abiding citizens to get concealed carry permits.

(Featured Image Source: Veteran stands up for 2nd Amendment at Chicago anti-gun forum

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Jack Park is a lawyer practicing in Atlanta. He has practiced law for more than 30 years, including as as an Assistant Attorney General for Alabama and in private practice, and as a Visiting Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He contributes to spectator.org and executivebranchproject.com.