I'm not sure there are too many in law enforcement qualified to judge someone on "good moral character".

Is the right to carry a concealed gun part of the Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms”? In California, that’s going to remain uncertain for a while after an 11-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week began hearings on the matter.

Over the past 25 years, concealed-carry laws have been expanded in most states. In California, county sheriffs determine which citizens get permits. But recent events have caused confusion.

In Feb. 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court ruled there was a constitutional right to concealed carry. In the case, Peruta v. County of San Diego, it found that “carrying weapons in public for the lawful purpose of self defense is a central component of the right to bear arms.”

Bucking that ruling, Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff announced in a press release, “Residents are reminded that California CCW issuance is discretionary by the police chief or sheriff, and is based upon both reason of (1) self-defense or self-protection, AND (2) good moral character.”

By contrast, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced she was relaxing her previously strict policy. But in March 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court announced the larger court panel would hear an appeal of the case. Unfortunately, Ms. Hutchens then reversed herself and restored her restrictive policy for Orange County.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, at the hearings last week, “several members” of the Ninth Circuit indicated they were “inclined to uphold the ability of counties to continue to place restrictions on gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public, despite objections that those rules may trample on Second Amendment rights.”

Ultimately, the case could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Heller case in 2008, the high court ruled gun ownership really was protected by the Second Amendment. We hope it also guarantees concealed carry. Numerous studies by John Lott and other gun scholars have shown concealed carry laws reduce crime by arming law-abiding citizens against criminals.

In the meantime, we urge our local sheriffs to adopt easier concealed-carry policies so we can protect ourselves.