Handgun holsters on sale at a Virginia gun store in July 2022
Handgun holsters on sale at a Virginia gun store in July 2022 / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Bruen-Response Bills Begin to Spread [Member Exclusive]

Two states that weren’t affected by the Supreme Court’s 2022 New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling are set to consider expansive “sensitive place” restrictions for licensed gun carriers this year anyway.

The bills bear a striking resemblance to response laws passed by most of the states forced by Bruen to loosen their permitting requirements. While those states have complied with that aspect of the ruling, they’ve also severely restricted where people with permits are allowed to carry a gun.

Lawmakers in Washington state introduced SB 5444 on Monday. The bill would make it a misdemeanor offense to “knowingly possess” a weapon in public libraries, zoos, aquariums, any park or recreational facility where children are likely to be present, transit facilities, and all state or local public buildings.

Meanwhile, a draft bill leaked by the gun-rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners on Thursday revealed Colorado lawmakers plan to introduce an even more expansive gun-free zones measure.

The bill had been touted by House Democratic leadership leading up to the session and is expected to be formally introduced in the coming days. It would ban licensed gun carry in all parks, playgrounds, rec centers, public demonstrations, polling places, medical facilities, banks, places of worship unless given express permission by the operating authority, stadiums, amusement parks, aquariums, museums, zoos, government buildings, correctional facilities, libraries, homeless shelters, daycares, and college campuses. It would also repeal the state’s school gun ban exception for on-duty school security officers.

Similarly expansive sensitive place restrictions have already been adopted in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Hawaii, and California.

But, unlike those states, Colorado and Washington have issued concealed carry permits to all applicants who meet objective criteria on a shall-issue basis for decades—Colorado since 2003 and Washington since 1961. Over that time, concealed carry has become a relatively popular practice in each state. Each currently has more than 700,000 active carry permitholders residing within its borders. Both currently rank in the top ten states in terms of the percentage of their adult populations with carry permits, according to research from the right-leaning Crime Prevention Research Center.

Furthermore, permitholders have a track record of being exceptionally law-abiding in both states. By some estimates, concealed handgun permit holders in Colorado are approximately 39 times less likely to be arrested than adults without a permit. And in Washington, where such data is available, the revocation rate for active permit holders is just 0.074 percent.

That history makes the efforts by Democratic lawmakers to invest political capital into clamping down on the freedoms granted to permitholders in both places a greater political risk, to say the least. Colorado and Washington have historically had fewer gun restrictions than states with Breun-response laws.

However, Colorado and Washington do share one key feature with the other Bruen-response bill states—namely, trifecta Democratic control. That at least partially explains their recent history of enacting most of the gun-control movement’s desired policies. Colorado, in particular, has seen a rapid increase in the number of gun-control laws on its books over the last decade as it transitioned from a perennial purple to a safe blue state.

Colorado and Washington are unlikely to be the last blue states that weren’t affected by Bruen to consider adopting a Bruen-response law, especially as gun-control groups push them as a new way to restrict firearms. But it’s one thing to have a bill introduced and another to get it passed. And Bruen-response bills, which have already faced trouble in court, face a lot of obstacles.

For one, expanding these laws to new states opens up new court venues for the inevitable legal challenges that follow. That increases the odds the Supreme Court takes up a case against the new carry restrictions. Not just because there will be more suits, but also because they’ll be more likely to create a circuit split the Court will need to settle.

To date, gun-rights lawsuits against Bruen-response bills have almost all taken place in courts under the Ninth and Second Circuits, where appellate judges have traditionally been prone to upholding gun laws. The Second Circuit, for instance, has already issued several stays against lower court rulings blocking New York and New Jersey’s latest sensitive place restrictions.

Colorado, however, is under the Tenth Circuit’s jurisdiction, a court currently comprised of more Republican-appointed judges than Democratic ones. While that alone does not guarantee a particular gun case’s outcome, the circuit is generally considered more favorable for gun-rights advocates than the Ninth or Second.

That means any legal challenge to a future Colorado sensitive places law will eventually have to work its way through the same appellate court that just upheld an injunction against the state’s recently enacted gun ban for persons under the age of 21.

Of course, the bills have to first pass before any of this can happen. That’s not necessarily guaranteed to occur. Despite the partisan lean of the two states, controversial gun bills have still proved challenging to get passed in recent years.

But should they pass, it would give the gun-control movement reason to further expand efforts to enact new gun-carry restrictions. It would also provide new opportunities for gun-rights litigants to undermine that strategy in court.

Join For Sober, Serious Firearms Reporting & Analysis

Free Weekly Newsletter

Get the most important gun news

Reload Membership

Monthly
$ 10 a Month
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions

Reload Membership

Yearly
$ 100 a Year
  • Two Months Free
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletter
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Best Deal
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Share

Facebook
Twitter
Reddit
Email
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Comments From Reload Members

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Menu

Member Login

Go back to the home page.

Sorry, only paid members have access to the full story.

Join For Sober, Serious Firearms Reporting & Analysis

Reload Membership

Monthly
$ 10 a Month
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletters
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions

Reload Membership

Yearly
$ 100 a Year
  • Two Months Free
  • Weekly News & Analysis Newsletter
  • Access to Exclusive Posts
  • Early Access to the Podcast
  • Commenting Privileges
  • Exclusive Question & Answer Sessions
Best Deal

Back to the home page.