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April 6, 2014

NRA gun rights quest takes it to court

NORMAN — The San Diego County sheriff denied Edward Peruta a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Christopher Haga’s gun collection was seized, and he was charged with crimes after he was mistakenly linked to a theft of assault weapons from a Fresno-area military base.

The National Rifle Association then lent legal assistance to both men as part of its aggressive legal and political campaign to blunt gun controls across the nation.

Emboldened by a seminal U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that upstanding Americans have the fundamental right to keep guns in their homes, the NRA has involved itself in hundreds of legal cases, many in California.

That case “unleashed a torrent of litigation,” said University of California, Los Angeles Law School professor Adam Winkler, a Second Amendment expert.

Much of it is either started by the NRA or supported by the organization, which offers financial assistance and legal help to people embroiled in lawsuits and legal trouble because they own guns.

Winkler said the latest legal battle over the Second Amendment centers on expanding the right to carry guns outside the home, which is why the NRA is representing Peruta and several other gun owners who are challenging restrictions blocking permission to carry concealed firearms in public.

Peruta filed a lawsuit in 2009 after the San Diego County sheriff rejected his application for a concealed-weapons permit because Peruta failed to show he had a “good cause” to carry a gun outside his home. Peruta owns a motocross track in Connecticut, but he and his wife spend many months each year in San Diego living in their recreational vehicle.

Peruta said he wanted permission to carry a gun weapon for protection, but the sheriff and California law said he needed a better reason, such as that his occupation exposes him to robbery.

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