Dealing a blow to gun supporters, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Americans do not have a constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in public. In a dispute that could ultimately wind up before the Supreme Court, a divided 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said local law enforcement officials can place significant restrictions on who is allowed to carry concealed guns, the AP reports. By a vote of 7-4, the court upheld a California law that says applicants must cite a "good cause" to obtain a concealed-carry permit. Typically, people who are being stalked or threatened, celebrities who fear for their safety, and those who routinely carry large amounts of cash or other valuables are granted permits. The ruling overturned a 2014 decision by a three-judge panel of the same court that said applicants need only express a desire for personal safety.
"We hold that the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public," Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the majority. In a dissent, Circuit Judge Consuelo M. Callahan said the ruling "obliterates the Second Amendment's right to bear a firearm in some manner in public for self-defense." The 9th Circuit covers nine Western states, but California and Hawaii are the only ones in which the ruling will have any practical effect: The others don't require permit applicants to cite a "good cause." The San Diego County Sheriff's Department says since the 2014 decision, it has received 2,463 applications from people seeking a concealed-weapon permit without having to show good cause. The department plans to hold on to the applications while it waits to see what the Supreme Court does.