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Court ruling shoots down ‘good cause’ for concealed guns

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POSTED February 14, 2014 1:16 a.m.

A federal appeals court known for its liberal-leanings struck down a mandate on Thursday that could make it easier for California residents to obtain concealed weapons permits. 

The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, issued a ruling to eliminate the “good cause” requirement that states California residents need to provide a reason other than personal protection to carry a concealed handgun. 

Currently individual county Sherriff’s and police chiefs are given the sole power to determine whether somebody meets the criteria as outlined. The discrepancies – as well as the granting tendencies of the law enforcement communities in the Golden State – have created entire web groups dedicated to outlining everything from what to wear to the interview to what to write on the application. 

States like Nevada, Arizona and Oregon have much more liberal concealed weapons policies, and those that are granted are often recognized by other jurisdictions. Out-of-state permits aren’t valid in California. 

“A lot of people are talking about it,” said Elite Arms owner Mark Davis. “It’s one of the biggest rulings by the Ninth Circuit and it’s absolutely something that people have been following. Interest in concealed weapons is phenomenally high – we answer between 10 and 20 questions about concealed weapons permits every day. 

“And I’m sure that’s only going to go up now.”

California now requires that those issued a concealed weapons permit show good moral character, take an approved training course and show “good cause” – any reason other than standard self-defense or personal protection. 

But when law enforcement officials have visited local political groups like the Manteca TEA Party Patriots in the past, one of the biggest questions – and the one that’s most commonly asked – is about whether upstanding residents should have a right to carry a gun, and what exactly does qualify as “good cause.”

When Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion visited the group in the wake of the national gun debate following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he outlined how he has specific examples of “good cause” statements that have been validated by the courts that he looks at when making a decision. Each case, he said, is different, and he holds no blanket policy one way or the other (some counties in California are said not to issue them at all while others issue them to any that apply). 

They were sentiments echoed by Undersheriff Jon Picone when he spoke to the same group just months later. He explained that his own personal viewpoints, which were far more on the pro-gun side of the argument, have to go out the window based on the way the current system is structured. 

All of that changed on Thursday with what the National Rifle Association has called the third “major” gun victory of the last five years.  

“The Second Amendment said that we have the right bear arms and just having them in the home would be keeping arms,” Davis said. “Nobody thought that this decision would come from the Ninth Circuit, and it’s probably going to end up on the Supreme Court’s desk. There are two other courts that voted the other way, so there will probably be a big ruling at some point in the future. 

“This one will go on for a while.”

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