SCOTUS ruling: California leaders vow new gun restrictions

California Atty. General Rob Bonta on Thursday vowed to work with the governor and lawmakers to pass new gun control laws “to keep Californians safe” in response to a Supreme Court ruling that lowered the requirements for obtaining a license to carry a concealed weapon in the state weakens.

“While this decision is undoubtedly a setback to American security, it also affirms the rights states have to protect our people,” Bonta said. “It gives us options to protect our families and we intend to take advantage of those options.”

Bonta said a state requirement for gun owners to produce a “reasonable cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon is likely unconstitutional following the Supreme Court ruling. But he reminded Californians that carrying a loaded firearm in most public spaces is still generally prohibited without a license issued by local law enforcement. Requirements for obtaining a license, such as A background check, gun safety course, and proof of residency, employment, or business in a local area remain in effect.

Heads of state have spent weeks pondering ways to respond in anticipation of the High Court ruling challenging restrictions on eligibility for concealed weapons licenses in California.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday in its 6-3 ruling that a New York law violates the 2nd and 14th amendments by requiring people to demonstrate a “special need for self-protection.” The decision of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. Bruen ruled that the requirement was unconstitutional because “it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to possess and bear arms.”

California lawmakers plan to amend and pass Senate Bill 918 by State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) in response to the ruling. The legislation will specify locations where guns may not be carried and clarify qualifications for obtaining a license, Bonta said.

“Therefore, in California, we will make it clear that a threat assessment is an essential element of the concealed carry application,” Bonta said. “The assessment will be robust, including reviewing arrests, convictions, restraining orders and other publicly available information that might indicate an individual poses a danger to themselves or others.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom also weighed in on Thursday, pushing back the Supreme Court’s “radical decision.”

“While this reckless decision is wiping out decades of sound gun safety law, California has been waiting for this moment,” Newsom said. “Our state will continue to lead the fight for the safety of our people.”

Since taking office, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has taken a different view of concealed weapons. Villanueva has dramatically increased the number of permits issued in the county, with concealed carry gun permits skyrocketing from 155 holders in June 2020 to over 2,800 last month, according to statistics released by the Sheriff’s Department.

“Sheriff Alex Villanueva has increased the number of concealed weapon permits approved as violent crime has increased in Los Angeles County. The sheriff recognizes that threats to residents have increased and has responded accordingly,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Thursday. The agency’s lawyers are currently reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision.

Newsom joined leaders in California’s Legislature last month in promising to speed up at least a dozen gun control laws a day after the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The legislation would further restrict California’s already tough gun laws, including a law modeled on a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists in having an abortion.

Senate Bill 1327, designed to challenge the Supreme Court’s refusal to block Texas law, would empower California residents to sue gun manufacturers or dealers and anyone who imports or sells assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, or ghost rifles.

Another measure Newsom supports would restrict firearm advertising to minors, and a third would crack down on ghost guns in California.

Bonta also sponsors Assembly Bill 1594, a similarly high-profile measure that would establish a “firearms industry standard of conduct.” The measure would allow the California Department of Justice, local governments and gun violence survivors to file lawsuits against members of the gun industry if they were allegedly “irresponsible, reckless and negligent” in selling and marketing their products and if they violate state gun laws.

Newsom said Thursday he will sign a series of gun safety bills that he expects lawmakers to send to his desk next week. Some of the bills contain urgency clauses, meaning they must get a two-thirds vote in each House of the Legislature and would go into effect immediately with Newsom’s signature. SCOTUS ruling: California leaders vow new gun restrictions

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