Gun owners in the Golden State will soon find it much harder to carry in public for self-defense thanks to a new bill passed by the state legislature.
California lawmakers approved legislation on Tuesday overhauling the state’s process for obtaining concealed carry permits and significantly expand the number of “sensitive places” where even licensed carry is a crime. Senate Bill 2, crafted in direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, now goes to Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D.) desk. He has pledged to sign it into law.
“There’s a reason why you’re far less likely to die from bullets in California,” Newsom said in a press release celebrating the passage of SB 2. “We’re using every tool we can to make our streets and neighborhoods safer from gun violence.”
Upon Newsom’s signature, the bill will make California the latest state to retaliate against the Supreme Court by cracking down on licensed gun carry. The High Court’s Bruen decision rendered California’s previous subjective “may-issue” permitting system unconstitutional. As a result, the state will now join New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Maryland in attempting to evade the ramifications of that decision by increasing the costs of obtaining a permit while simultaneously diminishing its usefulness.
Tuesday’s passage marked the second attempt for California lawmakers to get SB 2 across the finish line. A previous effort went down in flames on the final day of the last state legislative session after bill sponsor Anthony Portantino (D.) attached an “urgency clause” to the measure. That clause would have allowed the bill to take immediate effect upon Newsom’s signature, but it also raised the total vote threshold necessary for passage. The state’s Democratic supermajority legislature was unable to clear the higher mark.
Portantino celebrated the result this time around.
“I am proud to have partnered with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and amazing grassroots activists across California on SB 2 to strengthen our existing concealed carry laws and to ensure that Californians are safe from gun violence,” Senator Portantino said in a press release. “This measure is constitutional and consistent with the Supreme Court’s guidance in Bruen. I look forward to Governor’s signature on this important measure and thank him for his bold leadership on gun safety.”
SB 2 would increase the minimum age to apply for a carry permit from 18 to 21, require at least 16 hours of firearms training before applying, and remove an existing prohibition on local licensing authorities charging additional fees or liability insurance to receive a permit.
Like many of the other Bruen-response bills, SB 2 would also designate broad swaths of the state “sensitive places” where firearm possession would be prohibited for civilians. Those include all school grounds, college and university campuses, government and judicial buildings, medical facilities, public transit, public parks, playgrounds, any place where alcohol is sold, and more. It also adopted the increasingly common tactic of reversing the default status of publicly accessible private property—dubbed the “vampire rule” by opponents of the policy—whereby carry is banned unless explicitly permitted by the property owner.
Many of these restrictions have been found unconstitutional by judges in New York, New Jersey, and Hawaii, though all of those cases are currently being appealed. Gun-rights advocates said the experience in these lawsuits gives them confidence SB 2 will meet a similar fate.
“Senate Bill 2 will never see the light of day,” Sam Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California, told The Reload. “Multiple federal courts, including most recently out of Hawaii in Wolford v Sanchez, have ruled that the so-called sensitive places listed in SB 2 are unconstitutional and have no analog based on the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment.”
He said lawsuits are already planned for the bill once it’s signed into law.
” We are joining with an unprecedented team of Second Amendment advocacy groups to file a lawsuit challenging SB 2 before the ink dries from the Governor’s signature,” Paredes said.
The passage of SB 2 comes shortly after the California legislature passed another controversial gun bill, Assembly Bill 28, last Thursday. That bill would impose a first-in-the-nation 11 percent state tax on all gun and ammunition sales to help fund “gun violence prevention” programs and research. That tax would be in addition to the 11 percent excise tax already placed on the same goods by the federal government under the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.
Both bills now await action from Governor Newsom. His office would not comment on whether he supports the gun tax bill. He has until October 14th to either sign or veto it.