California has some of the strictest laws in the nation pertaining to firearms and was one of nine states that had some form of may-issue laws before the Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case that struck down a centuries-old law in New York. May-issue means that applicants must pass basic requirements and the issuing authority (county sheriff, police department, etc.) is allowed to use their own discretion in either issuing or denying a permit. Some may-issue states require an applicant to show “good cause” for obtaining a permit, while others require the applicant to show he or she is of suitable character and may require character references to authorize a permit. Now, New York and 8 other states are required to issue permits/licenses if the applicant meets the basic requirements set by the state. So, what does this mean for California?
What Did the Laws Look Like Before Bruen?
Before the Supreme Court struck down the centuries-old law in New York, it was next to impossible to obtain a concealed carry license in California. An applicant would need to show “proper cause” for needing to carry a firearm for self-defense. The local county sheriff or local police would then determine if the “proper cause” was sufficient enough to warrant a license to carry a firearm outside the home. For most applicants, the “proper cause” aspect of the process was hardly ever met, which led to the court case that made its way through local and state courts, eventually landing in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Apart from the difficulties in obtaining a concealed carry license, California makes it nearly impossible for anyone to protect themselves in the state. All firearms sales must be completed through a dealer. A permit to purchase, a background check and transaction report to the DOJ are required to buy a handgun. A license may include any reasonable restrictions or conditions the issuing authority deems warranted, including restrictions as to the time, place, manner and circumstances under which the person may carry a firearm. Many areas are off-limits, including schools, courthouses and businesses that sell alcohol for consumption. Currently, there is a ban on owning large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds while a lawsuit makes its way through the court system.
California Passes Laws in Response to the Supreme Court Decision
California Lawmakers were quite unhappy with the Supreme Court’s decision to restore Second Amendment rights to its citizens. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated, “this is a radical decision,” and “we will continue to stand up to those in political power who enable and coddle the gun industry.” To counteract the Supreme Court’s ruling, California passed massive legislation on firearms. The major components are:
- AB 228 – Requires the Department of Justice, beginning January 1, 2024, to conduct inspections of dealers at least every three years, except for a dealer whose place of business is located in a jurisdiction that has adopted an inspection program.
- AB 311 – prohibits the display or sale of any “precursor firearm parts” at gun shows on the Del Mar Fairgrounds of the 22nd District Agricultural Association.
- AB 1769 – Prohibits the sale of any firearm, firearm precursor part or ammunition on the property of the 31st District Agricultural Association, the Ventura County Fair and Event Center.
- AB 1842 – Prohibits licensed firearms dealers from charging more than 5 percent of the purchase price of the firearm as a restocking or other return-related fee when the purchase of the firearm is canceled by the buyer within 10 days of the application, with an exception for special order firearms.
- AB 2156 – Expands the prohibitions on the manufacture of firearms without a state license including reducing the number of guns a person may manufacture without a license and prohibiting the use of a three-dimensional printer to manufacture any firearm without a license.
- AB 2239 – Creates a 10-year prohibition on the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of child abuse or elder abuse.
- SB 906 – Requires local educational agencies to annually provide information to parents about California’s child access prevention laws and laws relating to the safe storage of firearms; requires school officials to report to law enforcement any threat or perceived threat of a homicidal act; and requires law enforcement or the school police to conduct an investigation and threat assessment, including a review of the Department of Justice’s firearms registry and a search of the school and/or student’s property by law enforcement or school police, if certain conditions are met.
- SB 915 – Prohibits the sale of firearms, firearm precursor parts and ammunition on state property, as specified.
- SB 1327 – creates a private right of action that allows individuals to file civil suits against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, sells or imports firearms banned in California, as well as precursor firearm parts.
In addition to these new laws going into effect, California has other legislation set for a vote in August. Those include:
- AB 1227 – places an excise tax of 10 percent on the sales price of a handgun and places an 11 percent excise tax on the sales price of all long guns, rifles, firearm precursor parts and ammunition.
- SB 918 – significantly expands gun-free zones, requiring signage for private businesses where you “can” carry; doubles training requirements; and maintains the ability to do in-person interviews, psychiatric evaluations, plus allows “time place and manner” restrictions on permits
- SB 505 – makes a person who owns a firearm strictly civilly liable for each incident of property damage, bodily injury or death resulting from the use of the firearm. Additionally, the legislation requires a firearm owner to obtain and continuously maintain insurance as well as keep evidence of this coverage where the firearm is stored.
If you live in the state of California, reach out to Senate Appropriations Committee members here to oppose AB 1227. To oppose SB 918 and SB 505, reach out to Assembly Appropriations Committee members here.