California AG: Maybe New York's latest gun laws are "overbroad"

California AG: Maybe New York's latest gun laws are "overbroad"
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Just a few weeks ago California gunowners dodged a legislative bullet meant to curb their right to bear arms in self-defense in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision tossing out the “may-issue” concealed carry permitting system in New York, which also upended California’s own requirement that applicants demonstrate a “good cause” for carrying a firearm in self-defense. Legislation that would have largely mirrored New York’s post-Bruen carry restrictions failed by a single vote on the last day of California’s legislative session, though Gov. Gavin Newsom and anti-gun lawmakers have vowed to bring the legislation back at the first possible opportunity.

Given the fact that a federal judge has already said that many portions of New York’s ironically named Concealed Carry Improvement Act are likely unconstitutional, are California lawmakers really ready to double down and approve similar restrictions in the Golden State? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes,” though California Attorney General Rob Bonta suggested in an interview this week that the California legislation could be tweaked in response to the New York case. One thing is clear, however: Bonta and other anti-gun Democrats are still intent on restricting the right to carry as much as they possibly can.

Bonta said his sense of urgency remains as acute as ever.

“There will be, and there have been huge spikes in the number of applicants,” he said. “We believe that it’s important to have a constitutional regime that allows for those who should constitutionally have a concealed carry weapon to have (one), but to take the steps to make sure that we are doing everything constitutionally permissible to keep people safe.”

“Keep people safe,” in Bonta’s view, means prohibiting concealed carry holders from actually carrying in most circumstances and ensuring stiff sentences and severe consequences for those concealed carry holders who may stray into one of the many “gun-free zones” Bonta and his anti-gun allies want to put in place. And even if the courts don’t look kindly on New York’s newest infringements on the Second Amendment, California’s AG is intent on putting new laws on the books.

Bonta echoed comments made by the bill’s author, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Glendale Democrat, who said that he would like to see the bill, or some version of it, introduced as soon as the next session begins in December.

That plan hit a possible speed bump late last month. Where California’s bill failed, a similar proposal in New York was signed into law, only for a federal judge to rule this month that its long list of “sensitive places” is unconstitutional.

“So we need to look at that, and maybe it is over-broad,” Bonta said, “and we should take that to heart…and respond appropriately with any new (similar) bill.”

Bonta was also asked about California’s new law that, in part, forces plaintiffs challenging any state-level gun control law to pay attorneys fees if they lose any portion of their lawsuit; a law enacted as a response to a Texas law allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers in the state. The California AG seemed to realize just how stupid this culture war fight really is, calling the move a “dangerous game” but claiming that somehow it’s okay when California does it.

Bonta insisted that the law is an earnest effort to “save lives,” but also acknowledged that it was meant to call the high court’s bluff.

“We’re using it in the best way that it can be used, in a way that advances California values,” he said. “But it’s dangerous. It’s a dangerous game. We’re using it responsibly. Now others can use it like Texas, and maybe the Supreme Court will look at the landscape of how this approach is being used and try to correct it. If that happens, that’s fine, too.”

Not exactly a stirring defense of the California law in question, is it? I’m sure the Second Amendment groups that are challenging the law in court will find Bonta’s comments very interesting, especially since it seems like Bonta’s basically asking the Supreme Court to step in and invalidate both the Texas and California statutes.

While Bonta might not be too eager to defend this particular law in court, he’s very much a willing participant in California Democrats’ attempt to chill the Second Amendment rights of Californians. Bonta can chalk that up to “advancing California values,” but to those trying to exercise their right to keep and bear arms Bonta’s efforts look a lot more like treading all over a fundamental right of we the people.