Concealed-gun ruling widens debate in California

Found here on usatoday.com by Reza Gostar, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun

California has the most gun-restrictive laws in the country, but last month a federal appeals court loosened requirements for carrying concealed weapons.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — From rusted six-shooters to semi-automatic weapons, hundreds of guns line the walls of a Desert Hot Springs police storage room.

Some are waiting to be destroyed. Others are evidence in ongoing investigations.

Nearly all came from criminals who got them illegally, Police Chief Dan Bressler said.

Bressler leads one of the most understaffed police departments in the Coachella Valley, in a city struggling with gangs while it grapples with how to pay for public safety.

While crime has dropped compared with years past, the crime rate was more than double the national average in 2011, according to the FBI.

“There are a lot of gang members running around the Coachella Valley who are armed, and there are many law-abiding citizens that are concerned for their safety,” Bressler said.

“I think it’s time for us to issue concealed weapons licenses to the law-abiding people of this city,” he said. “I believe this will deter crime and help people feel safer.”

California has the most gun-restrictive laws in the country, but last month the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the “good cause” component to carry a concealed weapon in a San Diego County case. For example, a domestic violence victim who fears for her life or a lawyer who deals with violent criminals might be granted good cause due to an imminent threat of violence.

In the ruling, a three-member panel found that “a responsible, law-abiding citizen has a right under the Second Amendment to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”

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