As the conservative majority of the US Supreme Court unleashes its extreme gun rights agenda on the nation, we had hoped we could count on the Democratic-controlled California Legislature to stand as a bulwark protecting public safety in the Golden State.
Those hopes were dashed by lawmakers this week opposed a critical gun safety law. Arrogance, ineptitude, and divisions among Democratic members allowed pro-gun ideology to win, leaving Californians vulnerable to more gunmen in our communities and creating the potential for more violence.
In the final moments of the legislative session, which ended Wednesday night, moderate Democrats in the convention joined Republicans in amending a bill to update state rules for licensing concealed weapons to conform with the The landmark judgment of the Supreme Court at New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. against Brno.
This should not have happened in a legislature where Democrats hold 75% of the seats – and could pass legislation that requires the support of an outsized majority and still has votes left. Democrats passed several other gun laws this year, so this defeat reveals a bewildering lack of leadership in administering an important piece of legislation.
The Supreme Court ruling essentially invalidated California’s long-held requirement that applicants for a concealed carry license demonstrate a reason why they need one. Once the decision was made in June, Governor Gavin Newsom said He said he had “worked closely with the Attorney General and the Legislature for months” in anticipation that the state would need a new process for issuing concealed carry permits. The proposal was presented in Senate Act 918, written by Senator Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge, and sponsored by Atty. General Rob Bonta, also a Democrat.
The legislation would have replaced California’s “good cause” requirement for people applying for concealed weapons permits with new requirements that proponents said are consistent with the Bruen ruling. It would have raised the minimum age from 18 to 21, required at least 16 hours of training, and expanded the elements of a background check to include character references and a review of public social media posts.
The ruling said states can ban people from carrying concealed weapons in certain “sensitive locations,” and the bill followed that logic. It would have classified numerous public places as sensitive and banned concealed carry in schools, day care centers, playgrounds, bars, courts, prisons, hospitals, arenas, libraries, churches, zoos, museums, amusement parks, banks and many other businesses.
Portantino and Bonta saw their plan as so important to mitigating the threat of the Bruen verdict that they included an emergency clause that would have caused the law to go into effect when the governor signed it, rather than the following year. But bills with emergency clauses need the support of two-thirds of the legislature, who are calling for extra diligence to build a strong coalition of lawmakers who will vote yes. It’s a high bar, but not an impossible one, if the legislation is handled properly.
That was not the case with this bill. The assembly brought it to the vote on Tuesday, missing two votes. On Wednesday, the last day for bills to pass this year, Bonta spent hours working in the assembly to find more votes. He crowded among supporters and met on a private balcony with lawmakers who appeared to be on the fence. Bonta, himself a former congressman, has connections in the Capitol that should have made him more effective at vote-whipping. But when the bill surfaced one last time, it still lacked a vote to pass.
Portantino said he thinks he has the necessary votes and is surprised his bill wasn’t passed. But that suggests he hadn’t done enough to ensure it had solid support lest it be pressured by a breakaway Democrat. Portantino could have amended the bill so that moderate Democrats would support it, perhaps by cutting the long list of places where guns would be banned. Or he could have removed the urgency clause so that it could be passed by a simple majority and come into effect in January. Any approach would have been better than what we have now, which is not a law at all.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) appeared unaware of the prospects for the bill during a brief interview with an editorial writer after the end of the night’s session. “I really don’t know why the members stayed away,” he said.
Whether the law fell through because it was political hyperbole or because proponents screwed up the process, its demise means California could see a surge in the number of people carrying concealed weapons without new guard rails in place to avoid danger to avoid. However, sheriffs and police chiefs can no longer require people to show a valid reason for seeking a concealed carry license Applicants remain subject must undergo a basic background check and must complete eight hours of firearms safety training and demonstrate “good moral character”. Existing State Laws prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons in relatively few locations, including polling stations, the state capitol, and state parks.
In New York, on the other hand, there is a robust new law in response to the Bruen ruling went into effect this week, which bans ordinary citizens from bringing guns into schools, churches, subways, theaters and amusement parks, including places deemed “sensitive”. New Yorkers applying for concealed carry permits must complete 18 hours of safety training and a list of their social media accounts for the past three years, under the law, which the state legislature passed the week after the Supreme Court ruling submit.
Portantino said he intends to reintroduce the legislation when California lawmakers reconvene in December. But even if the law is passed, it may not come into effect until 2024. That’s a long time to wait for a sane update to our gun laws. It didn’t have to be like this.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-09-02/california-legislature-supreme-court-guns-bruen-concealed-carry Editorial: Democrats failed California by letting concealed-carry gun bill die