A Federal Court Just Blocked An Attempt to Gut California’s Gun Laws

And the case’s Trump-loving plaintiff is not happy.

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This morning, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited opinion in a case challenging how concealed-weapon permits are issued in California. Writing on behalf of the seven-judge majority, Justice William Fletcher delivered a blow to pro-gun advocates, stating that “there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”

The case’s lead plaintiff, Edward Peruta, had argued that the state’s current system for issuing concealed-weapons permits is arbitrary and unconstitutional, since it gives sheriffs and police chiefs broad discretion in determining who has the “moral character” and “good cause” to pack a hidden gun. In his finding that such regulations are constitutional, Fletcher cited the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, which affirmed the right to keep guns for self-defense, but found that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

Peruta, whose lawsuit was backed by the National Rifle Association, is a Vietnam vet, ex-cop, public-access TV host, worm farmer, legal investigator, crime scene videographer, and serial litigant whose contentious past led some gun-rights advocates to question whether he was the ideal figure for such a high-profile case. “Do I believe that everybody should have a firearm? Absolutely not,” he told me when I profiled him last year. “Do I believe that there’s people who should be prohibited? Absolutely.” Yet he believed the Second Amendment was firmly on his side. “You don’t like it? Change the fuckin’ Constitution!”

“I am in absolute favor of Donald Trump, and the most import thing is the appointments to the Supreme Court since that may be the next stop.”

In 2014, two judges on the Ninth had ruled in Peruta’s favor. If that decision had stood, California would have become one of the 37 “shall issue” states, where concealed-carry permits may be issued to anyone who meets basic requirements such as a background check. But the court agreed to reconsider the case en banc after state Attorney General (and Senate hopeful) Kamala Harris intervened. The 11-member court heard arguments in the case last June. Both sides of the gun debate have been waiting for a ruling. Anticipating an appeal, the NRA has said it “presents an opportunity for the Supreme Court to settle some Second Amendment issues that desperately need resolving.”  

When I reached Peruta today, he said he had not yet spoken with his lawyers and had no comment on the ruling or plans to appeal. “I’m gonna defer to the powers that be,” he said. But he added, “I have have permits to carry and from this day forward I will be carrying openly.” (The court made no decisions regarding open carry.) 

Peruta also insisted that I note his strong support for another outspoken proponent of concealed carry. “I am even more convinced now that we need a Donald Trump in the White House,” he continued. “I am in absolute favor of Donald Trump, and the most import thing is the appointments to the Supreme Court since that may be the next stop.”

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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