California gun owners notch huge win on right to carry

New York-style restrictions on the right to carry will not be taking effect in California this week after anti-gun lawmakers failed to secure the votes necessary for passage, despite intense lobbying from Democrats like Attorney General Rob Bonta.

SB 918 had majority support, but because the bill’s sponsor crafted the measure to take effect immediately upon passage it required a supermajority of the Senate and Assembly in order to pass. A vote early Thursday morning fell just shy of the supermajority, leaving Sen. Anthony Portantino to vow to try again next year. Gun control activists, however, are demanding Gov. Gavin Newsom call a special session of the legislature in order to put the new restrictions in place as soon as possible.

“A dangerous Supreme Court decision recently put California families and communities at risk, yet last night too many of our representatives disregarded that danger and neglected to take action,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action and California resident. “Lawmakers must act in the wake of this reckless court decision, like in New York, where a similar bill has already gone into effect after state lawmakers acted with urgency. Thankfully, Governor Newsom is a strong ally in the fight for gun safety, and now he will need to act because our lawmakers didn’t have the courage to: he must call a special session and get this crucial legislation across the finish line.”

As we’ve discussed, New York’s new laws are shaping up to be an absolute nightmare, not only for gun owners but for sheriffs and other law enforcement as well. SB 918 would have imposed a number of new restrictions that are substantially similar to New York’s new regime, including declaring broad swathes of public and private spaces to be gun-free zones.

The proposal would have classified dozens of places in California as “sensitive,” including courts, hospitals, airports, public transportation, bars, public parks, libraries and churches. As a way to replace the former “good cause” mandate, SB 918 would have required local licensing officials, primarily sheriffs’ departments, to run through a list of criteria to ensure a person was a “qualified” applicant.
Officials would have to conduct in-person interviews with applicants, interview at least three character references and review social media and other publicly available statements to determine if those applying for permits were a danger to the public or themselves.
There are obviously constitutional concerns over these proposed requirements, but I have to say they don’t make a whole lot of sense from a practical perspective either. Under existing California law, it’s already illegal to purchase or transfer a firearm to anyone without first subjecting them to a background check and a 10-day waiting period, which is supposed to prevent dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun to begin with. Why, then, should the state have to conduct in-person interviews, check character references, and pore over social media posts to decide if someone is too dangerous to carry? Hasn’t that already been decided? I mean, can a person really be safe to own a gun but too dangerous to carry it?
In practice, of course, California’s laws aren’t stopping dangerous people from illegally possessing or carrying a firearm, as we saw in East Oakland this week when a 12-year old brought a gun to school and accidentally shot a classmate.
Everytown isn’t demanding Newsom bring lawmakers back to Sacramento because they’re worried about criminals getting carry permits; they’re terrified that in the coming months tens of thousands of Californians are going to take advantage of the fact that they now have access to their right to bear arms.
With the state “shall issue,” at least for a few months, California Rifle & Pistol Association president Chuck Michel tells Bearing Arms that the group is
“notifying local jurisdictions of their constitutional obligations to process applications quickly,” though he adds that CRPA “anticipates some stonewalling and game playing from certain localities hostile to gun ownership.”
When that happens, Michel says the organization will “see those hold outs in court,” and given that this California we’re talking about, we probably won’t have too long to wait.