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San Diego County Gun Owners PAC Disappointed in U.S. Supreme Court’s Rejection of Challenge

The San Diego County Gun Owners PAC (SDCGO), a diverse and inclusive 700-plus-member political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights in San Diego County, has issued a statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reject a major Second Amendment challenge to California’s strict limits on carrying concealed weapons in public.

In a 7-4 decision announced June 26, the justices declined to review an appeal filed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the California Pistol and Rifle Association (CPRA) in the case of Peruta vs. San Diego.

In 2014, the case made history when a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held that the San Diego County Sheriff’s restrictive “good cause” policy for the issuance of a concealed carry license violated the Second Amendment. However, shortly after that decision, the Ninth Circuit took the rare step of deciding on its own to rehear the case by an 11-judge “en banc” panel which overturned the 3-judge panel opinion.

Although the high court declined to review the case, Justice Thomas, joined by newly appointed Justice Gorsuch, authored a scathing dissenting opinion from the denial. Their dissent highlighted how the “en banc” panel improperly declined to answer the core question of whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry a firearm in public, and instead ruled that concealed carry is not protected. By doing so, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is “indefensible,” in Justice Thomas’ words, because it refused to call into question “the State’s regulatory scheme as a whole,” which generally prohibits the average citizen from carrying a firearm either openly or concealed in public.

SDCGO has opposed Gore’s consistent refusal to issue permits to law-abiding, trained citizens who qualify under California’s requirements for the permit to carry concealed firearms. The permits are commonly called “CCWs” (CCW stands for concealed carry weapon). Existing state law gives clear requirements for those seeking a CCW. Applicants are required to pass a criminal background check, complete a state-mandated curriculum on firearms safety and law, pay a fee and state a reason on the “good cause” portion of the permit application. According to SDCGO, sheriffs in California counties have unfettered discretion in determining a “good cause” policy and the majority of California sheriffs accept “self-defense” or “personal protection” to fulfill their “good cause” requirement.

In a statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Michael Schwartz, executive director, SDCGO, said: “It is important to understand what their decision means. The NRA/CRPA’s lawsuit leaves us with an en banc decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stating there is no constitutional right to bear arms outside of the home. But, in no way, does this hinder Sheriff Gore’s ability to issue concealed carry permits to law-abiding, trained San Diegans using self-defense and personal protection to fulfill California’s requirement of `good cause.’

“For years Sheriff Gore’s excuse for not updating his antiquated and divisive good cause’ policy has been that he was waiting for a final decision in court regarding the Peruta vs. Sheriff Gore. Today is that day and Sheriff Gore has his answer. The Court will not force Sheriff Gore to issue permits. The authority to define California's requirement ofgood cause’ is left with each issuing county sheriff or chief of police.

“We implore Sheriff Gore to think of the safety of his constituents and change his `good cause’ policy to one that is more accepting and inclusive so that San Diegans can exercise their rights to defend their life and dignity. Sheriff Gore should join the clear majority of sheriffs in California and issue concealed carry permits.”

In his dissent, Justice Thomas also the decision “reflects a distressing trend” in the treatment of “the Second Amendment as a disfavored right” in America today. Thomas wrote: “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 Constitution “does not rank certain rights above others,” and the Supreme Court should not impose a hierarchy of constitutional guarantees by “selectively enforcing its preferred rights.”

Thomas also wrote: “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.” Adding, “even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively.”

“While it’s disappointing that the Supreme Court has refused to re-hear Peruta, the battle for the right to carry is far from over,” Schwartz said. “The court may be waiting for additional courts to weigh in on the question.”

Founded in 2015, the San Diego County Gun Owners is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. While every U.S. state has a Second Amendment PAC, along with several nationwide gun rights PACs, SDCGO is America’s only local, countywide Second Amendment advocacy organization. For more information on SDCGO, visit www.sandiegocountygunowners.com.