A California-legal AR-15 style rifle is displayed for sale at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Calif., on June 5, 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
A U.S. appeals court on Jan. 6 allowed a judge’s ruling that blocked California from enforcing a new gun-control law that bans the carrying of firearms in most public places on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved an order by a different 9th Circuit panel from a week earlier that suspended an injunction issued by a judge who concluded that the Democrat-led state’s law violated the right of citizens to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
“The administrative stay previously entered is dissolved,” the court wrote in May v. Bonta. “The emergency motion under Circuit Rule 27-3 for a stay pending appeal and for an interim administrative stay is denied pending further order of the court.”
Last week’s order temporarily stayed the injunction. It allowed the law to take effect on Jan. 1. Gun rights groups then asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider, and on Jan. 6, a different panel of judges dissolved the order, suspending the injunction.
“So the politicians’ ploy to get around the Second Amendment has been stopped for now,” C.D. Michel, a lawyer for the gun rights groups, said in a statement.
California’s appeal of the injunction will now be heard in April. The state’s attorney general, in court papers, had argued that “tens of millions of Californians will face a heightened risk of gun violence” if the law were blocked.
The law was enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June 2022 that expanded gun rights nationwide. The high court, in that case, struck down New York’s strict gun permit regime and declared for the first time that the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, establishing a legal precedent for future cases.
In December, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney handed down a preliminary injunction against the gun law after he found that it would “unconstitutionally deprive” people with carry permits because they would not then have the “constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.”
The judge also said California, with the law, intentionally undermined and ignored the landmark 2022 Supreme Court ruling.
“The law’s coverage is sweeping, repugnant to the Second Amendment, and openly defiant of the Supreme Court,” Judge Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, wrote in his ruling. “The law designates twenty-six categories of places, such as hospitals, public transportation, places that sell liquor for on-site consumption, playgrounds, parks, casinos, stadiums, libraries, amusement parks, zoos, places of worship, and banks, as ‘sensitive places’ where concealed carry permitholders can’t carry their handguns.
The law, known as SB2, would make “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,” he wrote.
Kostas Moros, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs in the case—the California Pistol and Rifle Association—told The Reload that the earlier appeals court ruling meant that the “right to carry in California was unconstitutionally eliminated for almost a week.” He hailed the court’s recent decision to block the law.
“We are relieved the status quo has been restored, and Californians with CCW permits, who are among the most law-abiding people there are, can resume carrying as they have for years,” he said, referring to concealed carry weapon permits.
In a statement to news outlets on Jan. 6 in response to the court order, a spokesperson for California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the move is “dangerous” and “puts the lives of Californians on the line,” adding, “We won’t stop working to defend our decades of progress on gun safety in our state.”
The SB2 law was signed by Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, in September of last year. The 9th Circuit will hear arguments for the case in April.
to the decision, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, wrote on social media: “We’ve ensured California’s common-sense concealed carry weapons law—prohibiting concealed firearms in sensitive places like playgrounds and hospitals—takes effect tomorrow & while we appeal the lower court’s dangerous decision.”
Reuters contributed to this report.