Court allows California to ban guns in most public spaces

Court allows California to ban guns in most public spaces

A new law in California banning guns in most public spaces is set to take effect in early 2024 after a federal appeals court put a judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional on hold.

On Saturday, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals suspended an injunction filed on 20 December by a judge who argued the law violated the Second Amendment, according to Reuters.

A panel of three judges issued a stay on that ruling until another 9th circuit panel can decide if the pause should be lengthened during the legal process.

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement: “This ruling will allow California’s common-sense gun laws to remain in place while we appeal the district court’s dangerous ruling.”

Mr Newsom signed the legislation in September and it’s now set to take effect on Monday. It was enacted after the 6-3 conservative US Supreme Court expanded gun rights in June of 2022 when the court struck down New York’s permit regulations and declared for the first time that the Second Amendment guards the individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defence purposes.

The ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen also outlined a new barrier for gun laws as they now must be “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation”.

California has some of the strongest gun laws in the US. It was among a number of states with similar laws to New York state which took action to restructure their legislation following the US Supreme Court ruling.

Under the new California regulations, people couldn’t carry a firearm in 26 groupings of “sensitive places”, such as hospitals, playgrounds, stadiums, zoos, and religious institutions, even if they had a permit to carry a concealed gun.

Senate Bill 2 also banned people from having concealed guns at privately owned commercial businesses available to the public – unless the owner puts up a sign stating that license holders are allowed to carry guns there.

Litigation began after a lawsuit by the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, and others.

US District Judge Cormac Carney, appointed by President George W Bush, ruled against the new law on 20 December, writing that it “turns nearly every public place in California into a ‘sensitive place,’ effectively abolishing the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding and exceptionally qualified citizens to be armed and to defend themselves in public”.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta asked the 9th Circuit to place the ruling on hold pending appeal, arguing that allowing the law to remain blocked would mean that “tens of millions of Californians will face a heightened risk of gun violence”.

The Firearms Policy Coalition posted several posts on X about the ruling, writing that “there is no timeline for when the merits panel has to make a decision. It could come in a few hours, days, or even weeks”.

The office of the governor wrote on X that “this ruling will allow our common-sense gun laws to remain in place while we appeal the district court’s dangerous ruling. Californians overwhelmingly support efforts to ensure that places like hospitals, libraries and children’s playgrounds remain safe and free from guns”.

Responding, the Firearms Policy Coalition wrote: “No level of support justifies violating the rights of peaceable people, and the death of these public carry bans is inevitable. We look forward to harvesting your tears with great joy in our hearts.”

Lawsuits have also been filed against similar laws in other states.