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Advocates of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear firearms have made great strides in courts and state legislatures over the past few years. In 2008, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right not tied to service in a militia and
it overturned a District of Columbia
ban on owning handguns and restrictions on other firearms in one's home.
All states allow concealed carry, some without a permit. And only a few states completely ban open carry.
But there are still a few places that make it more difficult to exercise one's Second Amendment rights than others. And it's possible there will soon be
more.
California, for example.
The state bans open carry for the most part and only grants a concealed carry permit if the applicant can show "good cause"—a term that has never been clearly defined and pretty much depends on where you live in the state. Gun rights advocates have long said the state and cities use the flexible "good cause" provision to refuse as many permits as possible.
So they sued San Diego and Yolo
counties, charging they violated the Second Amendment by refusing to issue permits unless an applicant can show
he or she was in real danger. Personal protection is not considered a good enough reason.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs,
saying while the right to own guns in the home has been established, there has never been a ruling on a right to carry firearms in public, either openly or concealed.
In other words, they punted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other appeals courts have overturned and upheld state restrictions on carrying forearms in public, but the 9th Circuit is right. The nation's highest court has never considered the question.
And they won't now.
On Monday, the last day of its current term, the Supreme Court turned away the appeal of the 9th Circuit ruling, without comment. That means California's carry laws stand as well as the counties' interpretation of them.
That's too bad. The Second Amendment says both "keep" and
"bear" arms. The court has ruled on the "keep" and affirmed that individual citizens have that right. Now it's time to clear up any ambiguity on "bear." The court's refusal to consider this appeal may embolden the anti-gun crowd. We may see local jurisdictions trying to restrict Second Amendment rights. The only thing that can stop them is for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.
In refusing to hear this case, the justices missed a shot.

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