After the first month of 2023 was marked by a relentless series of mass shootings in California that claimed the lives of three in Beverly Hills, 11 in Monterey Park, and 7 in northern California, Governor Gavin Newsom hopes to pass a law restricting the places in which people may carry concealed firearms.
Referencing the rapid succession of shootings in which 19 people were murdered in just 72 hours late last month, Newsom released a statement announcing the new legislation, stating, “Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging.”
The proposal, Senate Bill 2, KTLA reports, will ban concealed carrying in churches, public libraries, zoos, amusement parks, playgrounds, banks and all other privately owned businesses that are open to the public. Business owners who adhere to a more “Live Free or Die” code and circumvent to potential law by posting a sign indicating that concealed guns are allowed.
The bill further seeks to establish standards and processes for obtaining a public concealed carry weapons permit in California, enhance the existing licensing system, set a minimum age requirement of 21 to obtain a CCW license, advance stronger training requirements, and identify sensitive public spaces where concealed weapon carrying would be prohibited.
The announcement of the proposed legislation comes in the wake of a number of massive losses for gun control advocates nationwide. In October 2022, a West Virginia judge struck down a federal law requiring guns to have serial numbers. In November 2022, a judge in Texas ruled that people under criminal indictments can still possess guns. And both of these cases cited the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court 6 – 3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which found it unconstitutional to require citizens to prove “proper cause” as part of applying for a concealed carry permit.
The SCOTUS ruling also rendered gun laws in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Hawaii unconstitutional until it’s inevitably challenged—perhaps under a different batch of Supremes someday.
At a Tuesday press conference discussing SB2, California Attorney General Rob Bonta made careful mention of the Bruen decision, emphasizing that the bill, as he and Newsom see it, is in compliance with the ruling.
“This is designed to comply with the Supreme Court dictates and direction when it comes to concealed carry weapon regimes,” Bonta said. “The Supreme Court has been clear there are two pathways where we can make progress to keep Californians safe. That we are not in a regulatory straightjacket. We can identify sensitive places… and we can also have fair, objective safety evaluations… That’s what this bill does.”
LIVE NOW: Governor @GavinNewsom, @AGRobBonta, @Portantino and gun rights groups announce new gun safety legislation. https://t.co/tMUwzrakGk
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) February 1, 2023
According to the Center for American Progress, right-to-carry laws increase violent crime and mass shootings. A 2022 study cited by the Center showed that right-to-carry laws increase firearm homicides by 13 percent and firearm violent crimes by 29 percent. Though California previously had a concealed carry bill, SB 918, in 2022–written by Bonta–it was shot down in the final hours of legislative session when it failed by one vote, unable to overcome the hesitation of some Democrats, as reported by CalMatters. Now, the need to double down on passing new legislation is all the more urgent considering California’s devastating January.
Assemblyman Marc Berman echoed the dumbfounding multiplicity of the tragedies, tweeting, “Two hours ago I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps for a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Monterey Park. Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn them, there is yet another mass shooting—this time in Half Moon Bay.”
Two hours ago I joined my colleagues on the Capitol steps for a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Monterey Park. Before we’ve even had a chance to mourn them, there is yet another mass shooting – this time in Half Moon Bay. In my district. https://t.co/JqSl0H1xib
— Marc Berman (@AsmMarcBerman) January 24, 2023
Still, despite the renewed push to pass restrictions, not all are optimistic about the possibility of legislative action on gun violence. Speaking with NBC News last week, Republican Sen. John Cornynn—who helped pass the sweeping bipartisan Safer Communities Act last year, the most significant new gun safety law in decades—said that despite California’s recent shootings, “I think we did everything we could do with the votes available last summer, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon.” He added, “I’d be surprised if the House would be willing to take something up.”
Newsom also acknowledged Tuesday that he and the state can pass all the gun rules they want, and that it likely won’t make much difference if Congress doesn’t go along.
“Despite the efficacy of our gun safety laws, which have been nation leading… the last few weeks remind us this is not an island,” Newsom said. “We need the federal government to participate and advance similar common sense.”
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