Q&A: How will the Supreme Court decision on gun law in New York affect California?

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declared a New York City law requiring residents to present “special needs” to obtain a gun permit unconstitutional. Given that several states, including California, have similar laws and practices, here’s what this decision means in the short and long term.

Question: What exactly did the Supreme Court decide?

BUT: In New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association v. Bruen, the court, by a 6-3 to Conservative majority, struck down New York’s requirement that applicants for gun permits must prove to the satisfaction of the state that they possess “a factual and statutory » personality. – a requirement for protection, not a general or unspecified concern for safety. The Court found this requirement, which is subjective and allegedly unevenly enforced in New York and locally in the Bay Area, unfairly restricts Second Amendment rights.

Question: How does California regulate concealed carry permits?

BUT: The state justice department issues permits, but they are processed by county sheriffs and local police departments. State law gives the leaders of these law enforcement agencies full discretion. About half of California’s 58 counties have adopted a “must issue” policy, meaning that applicants who demonstrate firearms and safety skills and do not have a serious criminal record generally receive a permit. The other half, including many in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, have a “may pass” policy where, like in New York, they require applicants to show “good reason” why they should be able to carry a concealed weapon. to public.

Question: How could Thursday’s decision affect what happens in California?

BUT: The decision means that San Francisco counties and other jurisdictions will no longer be able to require applicants to provide a reason for why they need a concealed firearms permit other than self-defense. This could mean a noticeable increase in the number of people who obtain permits and consequently hide guns in public places.

Whether this would require a change in state law is unclear. Donald Kilmer, a Second Amendment attorney who sued Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith over what he says was political favoritism in her office’s permitting practices, believes law enforcement can adjust without any or legislative changes.

“They’re going to have to accept the old, plain, vanilla self-defense as a good reason,” Kilmer said.

But Bonta announced that he is leading legislation, which could be heard by lawmakers as early as Tuesday, that would codify where concealed weapons are prohibited and the requirements for a concealed carry permit.

Question: Does this decision open the door for any Californian who wants to carry a concealed gun in public?

BUT: No. Permits will still be required, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Thursday morning. The Attorney General found the requirement to provide a “good reason” for the permit to be “probably unconstitutional” after the court’s decision. But he said Californians would still need to get a permit, pass a background check, demonstrate gun ownership and safety, and show proof of work or residence in the permit-issuing county.

Question: What are the restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun in public still in place?

BUT: The court’s ruling did not address enforcement of gun bans in “sensitive locations” such as legislative buildings, courthouses and schools, and Judge Clarence Thomas indicated, in the majority’s opinion, that such restrictions would not be challenged by Thursday’s ruling.

Kilmer said that private businesses, which are not normally open to the public, will still retain their right to restrict firearms in their locations, just as they can enforce the “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Maintenance” policy. But public spaces and private businesses open to the public, such as malls and grocery stores, are in a “slightly more precarious position” legally, and how this can be regulated remains unclear.

Question: Who, other than gun rights advocates, could benefit from Thursday’s decision?

BUT: Olu Orange, a decorated civil rights attorney and director of the USC Dornsife Judicial Defense Program, said he believes Judge Thomas’s arguments are partly to counter government discretion, which has been used in practice to disarm black Americans.

Kilmer said the court’s decision could also be seen as an “anti-corruption ruling”.

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