There’s dancing in the GVP streets today because the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Peruta v. California, which is the sine qua non of all legal cases covering what Gun-nut Nation calls ‘constitutional carry,’ i.e., the ‘right’ to carry a concealed gun outside the home. Other than getting rid of the background check system altogether, this concealed-carry crap stands at the head of the wish-list for making America fully-armed. The case attracted more than 20 briefs and everybody who’s anybody in Gun-nut Nation submitted something about this case.
What made Peruta so important for the promotion of gun ‘rights’ was the fact that California law grants concealed-carry issuing authorities, a.k.a., county sheriffs, determine an applicant’s qualification based not just on a background check, which is the policy in most states, but on the applicant’s ability to show proof that he would be in harm’s way unless he could walk around with a gun. In other words, California still retains the ‘may issue’ approach to CCW with the emphasis on a very narrow definition of ‘may.’
I lived in South Carolina in the 1970s and the only way to get concealed-carry was to become a state constable, an appointment that came out of the Governor’s Office based on a recommendation by the Chief of the State Police. How did you get recommended by the Chief? You knew the Chief. And the system for granting CCW in South Carolina back in those days was typical of most states; as late as 1987, only six states gave out CCW on a shall-issue basis and 16 states had no CCW policy of any kind. Other than the Communist northeast and California, every other state now has a shall-issue policy and 12 states don’t require any special licensing for CCW at all.
The problem, of course, is found in the 2008 Heller decision which reversed a long tradition of considering the 2nd Amendment to be operative only in connection with military service, and instead pronounced that Americans now had a Constitutional ‘right’ to own a gun. But the ‘right’ was limited in two ways: First, the case only granted Constitutional protection to the ownership of handguns, when Heller went back to Court and tried to get the same protection extended to his assault rifle, he was told to get lost. Second, the 2008 decision specifically protected handguns kept inside the home, in fact, there was no mention of carrying a gun outside the home at all.
In his dissent to the Court’s refusal to hear Peruta, Justice Thomas claims that the phrase ‘bear arms’ means that someone should be able to carry a gun on their person outside the home. And how does he justify this definition of 2nd-Amendment wording which, if correct, could be used to give constitutional protection to unlimited CCW? He quotes Eugene Volokh’s UCLA Law Review article which, among other things, contains a remarkable defense of carrying guns into places which serve alcohol, which if not allowed places a ‘fairly substantial’ burden on the individual who wants to go into a saloon toting his gun.
The bottom line in the Thomas dissent, and the reason he relies so heavily on the idiotic propositions of Volokh, is because the Court’s refusal to hear the appeal of the 9th Circuit’s decision still leaves open the issue of whether the 2nd Amendment protects not just private ownership of guns, but the ability of private citizens to go outside their home with a weapon based simply on their qualification for gun ownership, rather than any specific need for self-defense.
You don’t have to read between the lines of the Scalia-Gorsuch dissent to know how they would vote if this issue were to come before the Court. And even though the NRA’s pit bull in the Oval Office seems to have more on his mind than promoting gun issues, the national, concealed-carry bill is still alive and well. The fight to get constitutional protection for the nuttiness of concealed-carry isn’t finished, not by a long shot.