By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – On Thursday, the US Supreme Court, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, held that New York’s requirement that a person show “proper cause” in order to receive a license to carry firearms in public is unconstitutional.
Despite the ruling, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that California’s general prohibitions on carrying loaded and concealed firearms in public without a permit remain in effect.
“Californians are committed to safeguarding our citizens, our children, and our future through commonsense gun laws,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “States still have the right to limit concealed carry permits to those who may safely possess firearms.”
He said that his office has been watching the issue closely and that they have been working with the governor and legislature “to advance legislation that is both constitutional and will maintain safety for Californians.”
Bonta noted, “In the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, and with gun deaths at an all-time high, ensuring that dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry concealed firearms is more important than ever. The data is clear and the consequences are dire — more guns in more places make us less safe. In California, we are committed to passing and defending commonsense, constitutional gun laws that save lives.”
The governor condemned the ruling as a “reckless decision” and that “decision erases a commonsense gun safety law that existed for decades.”
However, he noted, “California anticipated this moment” and noted that the Governor has been working for months on legislation to respond.
Governor Newsom said, “Our state is ready with a bill that will be heard next week to update and strengthen our public-carry law and make it consistent with the Supreme Court ruling, just as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh said states like California are free to do.”
Senator Portantino joined the AG and governor to announce SB 918, California’s legislative response to the court’s action.
“The SCOTUS decision is a setback for safety,” Senator Portantino said on Thursday. “I am grateful that we had a plan in place to protect our current and future legislative gun control efforts. In the wake of the Texas tragedy and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s a moral imperative that California leads on this issue.”
Despite the ruling, in California, carrying a loaded firearm (whether openly or concealed) in most public places is generally prohibited unless a person has been issued a license obtained by applying through local law enforcement.
The ruling by the Supreme Court held that New York’s law requiring an applicant for a concealed weapon (CCW) license to show “proper cause” in order to secure a license violates the Second Amendment.
California similarly requires applicants for licenses to carry firearms in public to show “good cause,” and is likely unconstitutional under Bruen.
However, the CA attorney general believes that other requirements remain intact. Individuals may obtain a permit through a sheriff or chief of police after: a successful background check, the completion of a firearms safety course, and proof of residency, employment, or business in the county or city within the county. These laws were created and passed with the unique needs of Californians in mind.
“Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. On average, there are over 110 gun deaths each day and nearly 41,000 each year in the U.S. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents; with U.S. children being more likely to die from gun violence than in any other comparable country,” the AG’s office said in a statement.
Despite claims to the contrary, gun laws work to save lives and prevent gun deaths. California has some of the toughest laws in the nation and in 2021, California saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.
According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people—compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas. California’s gun death rate for children is also lower than other states, and is 58% lower than the national average.
SB 918 will be amended in response to the ruling and would specify the places weapons cannot be carried and clarify qualifications for obtaining a license.
“So in California, we’re going to make it clear that an assessment of dangerousness is an essential element of the concealed-carry application,” Bonta said. “The assessment is going to be robust, including looking at arrests, convictions, restraining orders and other publicly available information that might suggest that a person poses a danger to themselves or to others.”
“I am proud to be working with the Attorney General and Governor Newsom on SB 918,” Portantino said. “It is critical legislation to strengthen our existing concealed carry laws to ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence. We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and concealed carry laws are a key component of this effort.”
The governor added “make no mistake: this is a radical decision. Today’s Court thinks that gun regulations should be frozen in time, and that if there wasn’t a similar law in existence in the 1700s or 1800s, then a state can’t pass it now, no matter how important it is to protect people from the modern horror of gun violence.”
The governor said, “Our state will continue to lead in the fight to keep our people safe. Next week, I will have 16 new gun safety bills on my desk, including a bill that will allow individuals to sue gun makers and distributors for violating certain gun laws. I look forward to signing all of those bills. California has proven that commonsense gun laws save lives, and we will continue to stand up to those in political power who enable and coddle the gun industry.”