A worrisome court decision

The recent split ruling from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals weakens California’s gun control policies, opening the door to the popularization of the practice of carrying concealed weapons. This is a bad idea that the U.S. Supreme Court must review.

With a 2-1 vote, the justices found that the current law, which requires individuals to show good moral character and a “special need” in order to carry a concealed weapon, violated the Second Amendment because of the latter requirement.

Eight states have laws similar to California’s, and other courts of appeals have upheld similar legislation as constitutional, like the ones in New York, Maryland and New Jersey. Therefore, the high court must address this issue in order to clarify once and for all the authority of the states and local governments to regulate weapons.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain used the argument of the right to self-defense to say it was enough to have the good moral character requirement and nothing else, for authorities to let people carry concealed weapons.

We worry about this argument when we recall the Zimmerman case—or when in the name of self-defense, someone shoots another person who is texting at the movies or someone in their car at the gas station because their music is too loud. They all had “good moral character” until they used a gun.

Judge O’Scannlain’s argument leads to the abnormal idea that, the more people who carry concealed weapons, the safer people are, and that the authorities are not enough to provide protection, which is why it is better to be armed.

We think that cities should have more freedom to decide—like now in California—how to grant gun permits. The Supreme Court affirmed the right to carry weapons in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia. However, it kept open the possibility of state and local authorities imposing some restrictions, in an apparent contradiction to O’Scannlain’s decision. That ambiguity must be resolved.