Gun control lobby's new strategy: push the envelope on "sensitive places"

Gun control lobby's new strategy: push the envelope on "sensitive places"
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

If it seems like a lot of Democrat-run states are choosing to willfully ignore what the Supreme Court had to say in NYSPRA v. Bruen when it comes to “gun-free zones,” you’re not imagining things. Instead, you’re witnessing one of the post-Bruen strategies of the gun control lobby and their anti-gun allies in statehouses and on Capitol Hill: ban guns from as many places as possible and hope the courts will uphold the restrictions on at least some of the newly-defined “sensitive places”.

Since Bruen, we’ve New York ban concealed carry (or tried to, anyway) on all private property by default, while New York lawmakers and legislators in states from New Jersey to Hawaii have been pushing for bans on concealed carry in houses of worship, on public transportation, in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served, parks, museums, grocery stores, movie theaters, and in some cases even the parking lots attached to these properties. All of this flies in the face of the Bruen decision, which may not have laid out in specific detail what places can be considered “sensitive” but made it clear that they’re the exception and not the rule. As the WSJ reports, it’s all part of a strategy advanced by gun control groups and one that many anti-gun lawmakers are willing to follow, albeit with some minor adjustments based on pending court challenges.

State lawmakers in New Jersey are considering a bill that would require applicants for a concealed-weapons permit to complete in-person training and purchase liability insurance. The bill—which was approved last month by the state Assembly and will be considered this week by a Senate committee—would prohibit firearms in more than two-dozen places that lawmakers deemed sensitive, including bars and casinos.

Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, a Democrat from Middlesex County who sponsors the bill, said he watched the legal challenges to New York’s law and opted against mimicking some of its provisions, such as the social-media disclosure or a ban on firearms in houses of worship.

“The people sent me to Trenton as a legislator. They did not send me to be a Supreme Court justice,” Mr. Danielsen said. “I started this with the attitude that safety is my target, and this bill hits a bull’s-eye.”

Evan Nappen, a New Jersey attorney and gun-rights activist, said the legislation was overly broad and would affect lawful gun owners who aren’t committing crimes. “This will not stand. It’s already proven in New York’s experiment with this same garbage,” Mr. Nappen said.

Hawaii state Sen. Karl Rhoads, a Democrat, said he would introduce a sensitive-places bill next year but that its exact text will depend on the latest court rulings in New York. In California, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, also a Democrat, said he would reintroduce a bill that failed to gain enough support to pass this summer.

Gun-control advocates said states and localities should move forward despite the uncertainty.

“If courts eventually strike down certain provisions, so be it,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “But if legislators don’t push the envelope and explore the extent of their powers, I think they’re doing themselves and their constituents a disservice.”

In other words, try to violate people’s fundamental right to armed self-defense as much as possible and see what the courts will let these prohibitionists get away with. I’d say that does a disservice to every law-abiding resident and peaceable gun owner in these blue states, not to mention the political legacy of every legislator who votes in favor of criminalizing a constitutionally-protected right, but Skaggs and his cohorts unfortunately have plenty of lawmakers who are choosing to stand on the wrong side of history at this moment in time, and gun owners around the country are going to have our work cut out for us when the 2023 legislative sessions kick off in just a few weeks.