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Is the Second Amendment Only for the Elite?

On Monday, the Supreme Court failed to grant certiorari to an important Second Amendment case.

The case, Peruta v California, has been closely watched by gun rights and gun control advocates, law enforcement and legal experts nationwide, and many had predicted that — while the Supreme Court has been Second Amendmentunwilling to take on other concealed weapons cases — this one could be the vehicle to decide how far the Second Amendment extends beyond the home reported Kristina Davis of the San Diego Union Tribune.

Edward Peruta and other gun owners who were denied concealed-carry permits by the San Diego County California sheriff filed a petition asking the high court to consider hearing their case, which they lost on appeal at the Far Left 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Edward Peruta’s journey to the Supreme Court began back in 2009. Bob Adelmann reports that Peruta’s application for a concealed weapons permit was turned down by the San Diego Sheriff because the law stated he had to show “good cause” why he needed such a permit. Strict interpretations of that law impelled Peruta, with the help of numerous public-interest law firms and pro-gun groups, to sue. His case wended its way through the courts, winding up on the docket of the 9th Circuit of Appeals. A panel of three judges ruled in Peruta’s favor, but a full appeals court hearing reversed, saying:

“the protection of the Second Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public.”

Peruta and the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation filed a brief with the Supreme Court seeking the court’s opinion in the case, claiming that the California law could lead to a prohibition on carrying a gun outside the home for any reason.

Our friends at Gun Owners of America filed an amicus brief that challenged California’s restrictive “good cause” requirement for concealed carry licenses. Read GOA's brief here.

Through its Monday decision not to accept the case the Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit of Appeals decision.

Adelmann notes it takes four Supreme Court justices to consider a lower court’s ruling, and, despite the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the bench, just one other justice could be found to vote to take the case.

Gorsuch concurred in Justice Clarence Thomas’ eloquent dissent that criticized the majority for its continuing reticence to rule on important Second Amendment issues.

Thomas’ dissent should be required reading for everyone concerned about how constitutional rights are abrogated through denial. Wrote Thomas:

At issue in this case is whether that guarantee protects the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. Neither party disputes that the issue is one of national importance, or that the courts of appeals have already weighed in extensively. I would therefore [have granted] the petition for a writ of certiorari.

California generally prohibits the average citizen from carrying a firearm in public spaces, either openly or concealed. With a few limited exceptions, the State prohibits open carry altogether. It proscribes concealed carry unless a resident obtains a license by showing “good cause,” among other criteria….

In the county where petitioners reside [San Diego], the sheriff has interpreted “good cause” to require an applicant to show that he has a particularized need, substantiated by documentary evidence, to carry a firearm for self-defense. The sheriff’s policy specifies that “concern for one’s personal safety” does not “alone” satisfy this requirement….

Instead, an applicant must show “a set of circumstances that distinguish the applicant from the mainstream and cause him to be placed in harm’s way. [A] typical citizen fearing for his personal safety — by definition — cannot distinguish himself from the mainstream.” As a result, ordinary, “law-abiding, responsible citizens,” [as quoted from the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller], may not obtain a permit for concealed carry of a firearm in public spaces.

Consequently, with California’s injunction against open carry, and San Diego’s injunction against concealed carry, citizens are, wrote Thomas, “unable to bear firearms in public in any manner.” He added, “I find it extremely improbable that the Framers [of the Constitution] understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

Thomas came close to putting his finger on why the present majority doesn’t want to take cases like Peruta says Adelmann: fear of giving Second Amendment supporters a clear victory that anti-gun members of the court want to avoid.

Thomas noted that the 9th Circuit focused only on the specific term “good cause” and left out consideration of the much broader, much more important, and to the majority, much more dangerous, proposition: “The approach taken by the [9th Circuit Court] is indefensible, and the [present] petition raises important questions that this Court should address.… Had the Ninth Circuit answered the question actually at issue in this case, it likely would have been compelled to reach the opposite result.” (emphasis ours)

However, what makes Justice Thomas’ dissent so compelling is his unprecedented attack on the hypocrisy of the anti-gun elite on the Court:

For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous… But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it…

Justice Thomas is right – the Framers of the Constitution did not reserve the right of self-defense to those elite members of society whose position or wealth provides them with armed guards. When the courts fail to enforce the promises of the Constitution, then it is up to the legislature to act. We urge Congress to take up and pass a national concealed carry bill.

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