By Chuck Michel
Multiple gun owner’s rights advocacy groups and individuals have joined together and filed a Second Amendment challenge to Senate Bill (SB2) in the United States District Court. The lawsuit is known as May v. Bonta and you can see the filings so far here. We are already in contact with the state’s lawyers, are working out a briefing schedule, and have a tentative hearing date on a motion for preliminary injunction on December 4, 2023.
SB2 designates much of the state as a “sensitive place” and thereby eliminates those places where law-abiding gun owners who have qualified for and been issued a permit to carry a firearm by law enforcement can carry their approved firearms. So, SB2 effectively makes a permit useless. SB2 also makes it much more time-consuming and costly to obtain a concealed carry permit.
SB2 is a vindictive legislative response designed to get around the Supreme Court’s historic Bruen decision from 2022. Bruen held that a permit to carry a firearm in public to defend yourself and your family is a right, not a privilege. As a result, California and other states that previously limited access to these permits had to start issuing them, and the number of permit holders in California has greatly increased.
The Bruen decision also clarifies that governments cannot limit the usefulness of these permits by over-designating places as “sensitive,” where carrying a firearm, even with a permit, would be prohibited. Governor Newsom and the anti-gun-owner legislators who voted for this law are trying to do exactly that. They know this bill will only affect lawful gun owners because they are the only ones who pass the qualification process to get a permit.
SB2 does nothing to stop gun violence by criminals. And in fact, data from several states demonstrates that Americans with concealed carry permits commit crimes at extraordinarily low rates, as the lawsuit explains. Recently, a Hawaii district court relied in part on this same data, which was presented to it by some of the same associations now challenging SB2, to conclude that Hawaii’s similar law could be enjoined.
Designating so many places as gun-free zones is a retaliatory tactic coordinated by well-financed national gun control advocacy that is being used in states hostile to gun ownership to make the right to defend yourself in public useless. California follows in the footsteps of Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Hawaii.
Federal courts in those other jurisdictions have already enjoined laws like SB2. These rulings include, but are not limited to: Antonyuk v. Hochul, No. 1:22-CV-0986 (GTS/CFH), 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201944 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2022); Koons v. Platkin, No. CV 22-7463 (RMB/AMD), 2023 WL 3478604 (D.N.J. May 16, 2023); and Wolford v. Lopez, No. CV 23-00265 LEK-WRP, 2023 WL 5043805, at *1 (D. Haw. Aug. 8, 2023).
It is an open secret in the hallways of the Capital that Newsom hopes to pass so many gun control laws that Second Amendment advocacy groups cannot keep up. But those groups have responded by forming an unprecedented strategic partnership and coordinating their efforts to fight back.
We now have a strong coalition of gun rights groups fighting against these laws. And when we win, the state will be forced to pay our legal bill.
Pro-Second Amendment groups joining in a lawsuit against Newsom and SB2 are well known in the state, and many have been fighting against unconstitutional gun bans for decades. The coalition includes the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Gun Owners of California, Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, and Second Amendment Foundation.
Each organization brings resources, members, donors, and expertise to this challenge. Newsom has unlimited tax dollars to battle for his unconstitutional laws in court and thinks that he can bankrupt us. But we have millions of gun owners who donate to support these challenges. When our elected officials refuse to uphold the law of the land and our Constitution, we are proud to hold that line for the people of California.”
The crown jewel of Newsom’s anti-Second Amendment campaign is his ploy to get a 28th Amendment passed that would gut the Second Amendment, including a ban on semi-automatic firearms. But 38 states would have to agree to that amendment, and 24 states have already filed amicus briefs in courts that urged those courts to strike down laws banning semi-automatic firearms commonly possessed by tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners. So, his constitutional amendment gambit, which insiders already recognize is a ploy to raise money and give him a platform to run his shadow campaign for president, is dead on arrival.
C.D. “Chuck” Michel is Senior Partner at the Long Beach, California Law firm of Michel & Associates, P.C. He is the author of California Gun Laws, A Guide to State and Federal Firearm Regulations now in its 10th edition for 2023 and available at www.calgunlawsbook.com.