Dealing a blow to gun supporters, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Americans do not have a constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in public.
In a dispute that could ultimately wind up before the Supreme Court, a divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said local law enforcement officials can place significant restrictions on who is allowed to carry concealed guns.
In a 7-4 vote, the court upheld a California law that says applicants must supply a “good cause” to obtain a concealed-carry permit. People who are being stalked or threatened, celebrities who fear for their safety, and those who routinely carry large amounts of cash or other valuables are often given permits.
The ruling overturned a decision by three-judge panel of the same court that said applicants need only express a desire for personal safety.
The 9th Circuit’s rulings are binding in nine Western states. Only two other federal appeals courts have taken up the issue — in cases out of New York and Maryland — and both ruled the way the 9th Circuit did.
The National Rifle Association called the ruling “out of touch” and said the dispute could ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court, which has so far declined to take up the issue.
“This decision will leave good people defenseless, as it completely ignores the fact that law-abiding Californians who reside in counties with hostile sheriffs will now have no means to carry a firearm outside the home for personal protection,” said NRA legislative chief Chris W. Cox.
Gun-control advocates hailed the decision.
The New York-based gun control organization Everytown called it “a major victory for public safety.”
The 9th Circuit decision arose from a lawsuit Edward Peruta filed challenging the San Diego County sheriff’s refusal to issue him a permit because he failed to cite a “good cause.” The sheriff required applicants to produce supporting documents, such as a restraining order against a possible attacker.
Peruta argued that the requirement violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris called the ruling “a victory for public safety and sensible gun safety laws.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.