Is carrying an unloaded handgun an effective means of self-defense?

Currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is Peruta v. San Diego, in which plaintiffs challenge the San Diego Sheriff’s refusal to issue concealed handgun carry permits to ordinary persons who wish to carry handguns for lawful self-defense. The district court held that the Sheriff’s actions were not Second Amendment violations because, inter alia, California law allows the unlicensed, open carry of an unloaded handgun. The handgun may not be loaded unless there is an “imminent” threat which would justify calling 911.

Earlier this week, I filed an amicus brief on behalf of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. The brief addresses the practical issue of loading and using a handgun while under imminent threat, and argues that unloaded carry is not an adequate means of self-defense. The brief includes links to videos which illustrate various points in the brief.