Dave Kopel

Ninth Circuit affirms the right to carry for self-defense

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California law yesterday that allowed local governments to effectively ban citizens from exercising carrying a gun outside the home for the purpose of self-defense:

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in Peruta v. San Diego…affirms the right of law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for lawful protection in public.

California law has a process for applying for a permit to carry a handgun for protection in public, with requirements for safety training, a background check, and so on. These requirements were not challenged. The statute also requires that the applicant have “good cause,” which was interpreted by San Diego County to mean that the applicant is faced with current specific threats. (Not all California counties have this narrow interpretation.) The Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion written by Judge O’Scannlain, ruled that Peruta was entitled to Summary Judgement, because the “good cause” provision violates the Second Amendment.

The Court ruled that a government may specify what mode of carrying to allow (open or concealed), but a government may not make it impossible for the vast majority of Californians to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Floridians back “Stand Your Ground” law

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin’s death, many on the Left have been blaming Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a statue passed last year that allows use for the use of deadly force in self-defense (my home state of Georgia passed a similar law a few years ago). They say that the law empowered George Zimmerman to target Martin and claim self-defense.

While I have no opinion on Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence in the case at this point — I believe too little is known to jump to conclusions one way or the other, the ire over the “Stand Your Ground” law seems a little misplaced and, in some cases, dishonest. Dave Kopel, a Second Amendment scholar, explains:

The assertion that Florida law allows shooting whenever someone believes it to be necessary is a flat-out lie. The actual law of Florida is that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force” if “(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony” (Florida Statutes, Section 776.012).

The second part of the law provides special provisions for self-defense against violent home invaders or carjackers. Neither of those is relevant to the Zimmerman case.

If the factual claims of Trayvon’s supporters are true, Mr. Zimmerman criminally attacked Trayvon and killed him, while having no reasonable belief that Trayvon was perpetrating a forcible felony, or imminently about to kill or gravely wound Mr. Zimmerman. So Florida’s self-defense laws simply would not apply, since Mr. Zimmerman would have no right under Florida law to use deadly force.

Where do potential SCOTUS nominees stand on the Second Amendment?

Over at the Volokh Conspriacy, Dave Kopel takes a brief look at prospective Supreme Court nominees and their record on the Second Amendment:

In order from worst to not-all-bad:

Strongly-ideological, highly-committed gun prohibitionist: Harold Koh.

Extensive record of anti-Second Amendment leadership: Secretary of State Clinton, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Gov. Deval Patrick.

Limited but clearly negative record on right to arms: Judge Diane Wood, Judge Merrick Garland.

Mixed record, but with very little positive: Amy Klobuchar.

Mixed record: Cass Sunstein, Janet Napolitano [negatives include the ridiculous Dept. of Homeland Security report conflating political dissent with terrorism; as governor she signed some pro-right to arms legislation, and vetoed other bills], Jennifer Granholm [like Napolitano, a mixed record as governor, including signing some important reforms].


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