As California enacts a myriad of new gun restrictions, one gun-rights leader in the state sees the deluge as a strategy.
Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), told The Reload the collection of new gun laws is a deliberate attempt by Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) to overwhelm opponents. He said it was part of a “blue resistance” campaign against the new paradigm created by the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Instead of passing laws to comply with the Court’s opinion, states like New York and California are flooding the zone with new restrictions that flout it.
“I think Newsom is on the warpath,” Michel told The Reload. “He’s just such a vindictive, sore loser. I mean, he’s passing stuff he couldn’t give two craps if it’s constitutional or not. He just doesn’t care about anything. He is passing everything to try and stretch us so thin we can’t keep up.”
CRPA now has nearly a dozen active cases against California’s gun laws, a number which has ballooned since Bruen was handed down. The number only grows when considered cases filed by other gun-rights groups such as the Firearms Policy Coalition, Gun Owners of America, and Second Amendment Foundation.
Governor Newsom did not respond to a request for comment. However, he has openly talked about imposing new restrictions as a way of bucking the Supreme Court’s directive on gun laws. While announcing a ban on gun advertising that could appeal to minors, which has resulted in a statewide shutdown of youth shooting sports, he was clear about his motivations.
“As the Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections and states across the country treat gun violence as inevitable, California is doubling down on commonsense gun safety measures that save lives,” he said in a press release. “The lives of our kids are at stake and we’re putting everything on the table to respond to this crisis.”
Michel, whose group has filed suit against the ad ban, said it is a good example of the haphazard nature of the new gun restrictions.
“It’s a catastrophe, and that’s what it was meant to be,” he said.
He said he didn’t believe Governor Newsom’s claim the law wasn’t intended to affect youth shooting sports. Michel argued disrupting youth shooting leagues fits with the governor’s overall goals when it comes to firearms.
“Newsom knew what he was doing and didn’t give a crap because he said many times that his goal is to eliminate gun culture,” he said. “That’s why he goes after gun shows, gun stores, ranges, anything where gun owners congregate and talk about guns and gun safety and gun politics. He doesn’t want those forums to exist. He doesn’t want there to be any platforms for developing relationships around the shooting sports or self-defense or the Second Amendment. He wants this generation of gun owners and those who participate in the shooting sports to be the last.”
He said the new copycat gun bounty law California passed as a form of protest against a similar abortion law in Texas is another example of a poorly thought out gun law. And it isn’t going to be the only questionable copy coming to the state, Michel said. California is moving to adopt broad new restrictions on where licensed gun carriers can legally conceal their firearms which mirror New York’s recent laws.
That will create a situation where Californians, like New Yorkers, face more restrictions on their ability to carry a gun after the Supreme Court declared doing so a right. It’s a situation liberal lawmakers are betting will last.
“Their strategy is they hope that the courts, particularly the Ninth Circuit, will bend over backwards, just like they did after Heller, to interpret the Bruen case very, very, very narrowly,” Michel said. “So that way, most of their laws will still be upheld. They’re going to argue that, ‘hey, you said we don’t have to allow guns in sensitive places. We’re just designating more places sensitive.'”
He argued there was good reason for lawmakers like Newsom to try this strategy. Countering it will likely require relatively quick action from the Supreme Court. After the landmark Heller ruling in 2008, the Court was reluctant to take gun cases. It didn’t hand down a significant update to its Second Amendment jurisprudence until this year.
“These questions came up, and the Supreme Court didn’t answer them for 14 years,” Michel said. “That’s what they’re counting on.”
But he said CRPA is up to the task of challenging all of these new laws. And he expects Newsom’s strategy won’t pay off this time around.
“It’s a different court now,” Michel said.