Huge: Many of California's New 'Gun-Free Zones' Back on Hold After Ninth Circuit Decision

(AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Wayne LaPierre’s retirement from the NRA wasn’t the only surprising news for gun owners over the past few days. I’m genuinely gobsmacked that a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel did the right thing and has allowed an injunction blocking enforcement of many of California’s new “gun-free zones” to take effect.


Not long after U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney issued that injunction, the Ninth Circuit granted Attorney General Rob Bonta’s request for a short-term administrative stay, but asked the two sides for briefing on Bonta’s request for a preliminary stay. The plaintiffs including a number of 2A organizations, laid out why a stay would upend, not maintain the status quo; starting with the fact that almost none of these “gun-free zones” were off-limits to lawful carry until SB 2 went into effect on January 1. Tens of thousands of licensed concealed carry holders are now forbidden from carrying where it was perfectly legal to do so just a couple of weeks ago, and they’re rights are being abridged every day these “sensitive places” are in effect.

The Ninth Circuit panel hasn’t made a final determination on the constitutionality of any of the new no-go zones for gun owners, but on Saturday it allowed Carney’s injunction to take effect; a big (if not yet final) win for concealed carry licensees and the Second Amendment groups representing them in court.


Not only did the court refuse to keep the administrative stay in place, it denied Bonta’s request for an an emergency stay of Carney’s order. A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments on the state’s appeal of Carney’s injunction, but that won’t happen until April, so concealed carry holders can once again carry in these locations, subject to any prohibitions posted by the individual private property owner:

  • Hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, medical offices, urgent care facilities, and other places where medical services are customarily provided,
  • Public transportation
  • Establishments where “intoxicating liquor” is sold for consumption on the premises
  • Public gatherings and special events
  • Playgrounds and private youth centers
  • Parks and athletic facilities
  • Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Fish and Wildlife property, except hunting areas,
  • Casinos and gambling establishments
  • Public libraries, zoos, and museums
  • Places of worship
  • Financial institutions
  • Privately-owned businesses open to the public
  • Parking areas (including those adjacent to “sensitive places” not challenged by the plaintiffs)

Some of these places, like banks, may have already had policies barring gun owners from bringing their firearms inside, but it’s once again up to the business owner in those types of establishments to make that decision rather than the state making it for them. I’m especially pleased that the state’s prohibition on concealed carry in public transportation is on hold, given what that does to the right to carry for those who have to rely on city buses or light rail to get around.


The fact that establishments where liquor is served can continue to welcome concealed carry holders if they choose is another welcome development; not only for Californians but for Virginia gun owners like myself. Democrats are trying to use their newly-won narrow majorities in the state legislature to restrict the right to carry and put in place a restaurant and bar ban virtually identical to the one that Carney put on hold, and we can now direct those lawmakers and Gov. Youngkin to his decision and the Ninth Circuit order allowing the injunction to remain in place as evidence that the restriction is indeed repugnant to our right to bear arms.

While the “gun-free zones” could be enforced if the Ninth Circuit panel overturns Carney’s injunction in the spring, attorney Kostas Moros, who’s been heavily involved in May v. Bonta, sees some positive signs.

Congratulations to the 100,000 or so California concealed carry licensees, and to the attorneys working on both Carralero v. Bonta and May v. Bonta for achieving what I was beginning to suspect was impossible; getting a ruling from the Ninth Circuit that respects the Second Amendment and won’t be overturned or stayed within 72 hours.


Teamwork makes the dream work, and the coalition of 2A orgs taking on the infringements of SB 2 is heartening to see… especially when it leads to results like this. We’ll be talking more about the impact of this order on California gun owners, as well as the next steps in the litigation, with Moros on Monday’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, and I encourage you to tune in for what promises to be a great conversation. I always prefer talking about good news, and even though the order is only temporary for now, it’s the most significant win for gun owners from the Ninth Circuit that we’ve seen in a long time.

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