California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a press conference in Sacramento on Feb. 1, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A collection of gun-rights groups and seven individuals sued California state, county, and local law enforcement agencies and officials over the Golden State’s policies on the concealed carry of weapons (CCW) on Dec. 4.
The Second Amendment Foundation, the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Gun Owners of America, the Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of California, and seven citizens sued California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, and Chief Colleen Flores, the La Verne, California, chief of police, as individuals and in their roles as heads of their respective agencies.
Mr. Bonta’s and Mr. Luna’s offices didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Lt. Chris Dransfeldt, watch commander at the La Verne Police Department, said Chief Flores had no comment.
“We can’t comment on pending litigation,” he told The Epoch Times.
The plaintiffs allege violations of the U.S. Constitution and state law. They want to prevent enforcement of the law, the collection of excessive fees, and to order California to recognize CCW permits from other states.
California is one of several states that tightened its gun control laws after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen in June of 2022.
In that decision, the Court found that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms allows citizens to carry weapons in public, with some limited exceptions.
Adam Kraut, executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation, said gun-control advocates in government won’t stop unless the courts step in.
“It is apparent that the defendants unilaterally decided that Bruen did not apply to them and have continued to foster policies that make the process to obtain a permit as arduous as possible,” Mr. Kraut wrote in a statement released after the lawsuit was filed.
Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America (GOA), agreed.
He said the new policies are indicative of California’s elected officials’ attitudes toward gun ownership. He claims that the state has become more dangerous under the leadership of Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“Gov. Newsom isn’t shy about his hostility toward the right to keep and bear arms, having gone so far as to propose major changes via a Constitutional Amendment,” Mr. Pratt wrote in a statement.
“While the governor wouldn’t admit it, that danger is most obvious in major metro centers such as L.A. and San Francisco, where he has utterly failed to reduce crime.”
Gun-rights activists see the Bruen decision as the bookend to the 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, in an interview on NTD's Capitol Report on May 28, 2022. (NTD/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
California’s most recent concealed-carry policy, SB 2, sets a list of “sensitive locations” where CCW would be prohibited. The list includes all private property unless expressly permitted by the owner.
The law also requires 16 hours of training, allows local authorities to require a psychiatric evaluation as part of the application process, and increases the permit’s cost.
Gun-rights activists have expressed outrage over the new requirements.
Sam Paredes is the executive director of Gun Owners of California. Speaking on behalf of the Gun Owners Foundation board of directors, he decried the law as an assault on individual rights.
“Laws like SB2 only further embolden criminals in California, and the delays, fees, and psychiatric requirements imposed by local authorities are a blatant assault on one’s constitutional rights, as a right delayed is a right denied,” Mr. Paredes wrote in a GOA statement.
In September, GOA and the Gun Owners Foundation filed their first legal challenge to the sensitive location prohibitions.
This lawsuit challenges the psychiatric evaluation, excessive fees, and extensive wait times currently imposed by several local police departments on Californians trying to secure a permit.
Plaintiffs Want Reciprocity
In addition, the lawsuit challenges the fact that nonresidents have no CCW rights in California, as there’s neither reciprocity with other states nor a way for nonresidents to get a California permit.
California’s law is similar to New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which has also been challenged in court.
Many blue-state legislatures took the opposite path of Bruen.
Oregon, Illinois, Washington, and others implemented stricter firearms restrictions or refitted existing laws to get around the new standard.
Washington, Illinois, and Delaware joined the seven other states in banning certain types of semi-automatic rifles, so-called “assault weapons.”
At the same time, 27 states have adopted so-called “constitutional carry laws,
” which allow law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm without a license.