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Court tosses California's concealed weapons rules

SAN FRANCISCO — A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California concealed-weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The 2-1 ruling of a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California counties were wrong to require law-abiding applicants to show "good cause" beyond self-defense to receive a concealed-weapons permit.

California prohibits people from carrying handguns in public without a concealed-weapons permit. State law requires applicants to show good moral character, have good cause and take a training course. It's generally up to the state's sheriffs and police chiefs to issue the permits, and the vast majority require an applicant to demonstrate a real danger or other reasons beyond simple self-defense to receive a permit. The 9th Circuit on Thursday said that requirement violates the 2nd Amendment.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said those requirements were too strict and ran afoul of a 5-4 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban and said law-abiding citizens are allowed to have handguns in their home for self-defense.

"The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the majority.

Chuck Michel, an attorney who represented several San Diego County residents who were denied a permit and who filed a lawsuit in 2009, praised the 9th Circuit Court's ruling.

"This decision is a very dramatic confirmation of the Supreme Court ruling," Michel said.

O'Scannlain wrote that the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's requirement that applicants must provide documentation such as a restraining order to show a "special need" for a permit "impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense."

The ruling reversed a lower-court decision tossing out the lawsuit and ordered the judge to rule in favor of the applicants.

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