Rob Bonta
California Attorney General Rob Bonta (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
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Among gun owners, California is infamous for having some of the most restrictive—and unconstitutional—gun laws on the books. And one by one they’re being challenged in court.

On Thursday, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed a lawsuit against California for the law that bans carry of firearms in the state by out-of-state residents. The case, Hoffman v. Bonta, filed on behalf of three out-of-state gun owners, is just one of several that FPC and the FPC Action Fund (FPCAC) are currently litigating in California on behalf of lawful gun owners.

“California’s unconstitutionally restrictive scheme provides no path for non-residents to carry a firearm lawfully in public at all,” the complaint states. “As a result, individuals like Plaintiffs Hoffman, Orrin and Sensiba, who have been issued carry licenses in their respective home states (and are allowed by other states that either do not require a license, or which offer reciprocity based upon the license(s) they hold), are barred from lawfully carrying a firearm in public for self-defense when they visit California.”

Cody J. Wisniewski, FPCAC president and FPC counsel, said the restriction is just one more example of California leaders believing they are above the law.

“California’s ban on firearm carry by non-residents is blatantly unconstitutional,” Wisniewski said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “Whether California likes it or not, the United States Constitution requires the State to allow non-residents the ability to exercise their natural, fundamental right to bear arms. We again look forward to reminding California that it is not above the Constitution.”

The complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, makes the point that rights covered under the Second Amendment are no less important than other rights enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

“This ban is unconstitutional,” the complaint stated. “Individuals like Plaintiffs do not lose protection of their rights under the First Amendment’s speech or religion clauses when they cross state lines. Nor do they lose their protection under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The likewise do not surrender their Second Amendment protected rights when they travel outside their home state.”

The California government, which has never accepted the 2022 Supreme Court Bruen ruling, will, of course, fight the lawsuit with thousands of dollars of taxpayer money—much of it paid by lawful gun owners who live in the state.

It’s evident that the FPC has a pretty strong case. In fact, in a 2023 case concerning a New Hampshire permit holder who was arrested in Massachusetts a district court judge ruled in favor of the man who had been arrested for carrying his firearm in Massachusetts.

“A law-abiding resident of New Hampshire who is exercising his constitutional right should not become a felon by exercising that right while he is traveling through Massachusetts merely because he has not obtained a Massachusetts license to carry, which now, under the holding of Bruen, has to be issued to an applicant unless the applicant is otherwise disqualified,” the judge wrote in his ruling in Commonwealth v. Dean. F. Donnell. “The court can think of no other constitutional right which a person loses simply by traveling beyond his home state’s border into another state continuing to exercise that right and instantaneously becomes a felon subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration.”

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    • The more I thought about that meme, I pondered the idea that the free states could write legislation making CA, NY, etc. driver’s licenses void in their state. Wonder how that would pan out…

      • The Full-Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution would indicate this would be a non-starter.

        Thing is, it legally has to work both ways, in all cases.

        • My point is that the left doesn’t care about any of that nor the Constitution in general. They know full well their laws will never pass muster, yet there they are for years as they wind through the judicial system. Payback time.

        • As long as the media fed public perception of Gun Control remains positive in states like CA, IL et al and public perception of Gun Owners remains negative Gun Control zealots will continue to bully the 2A…The usual that’s unconstitutional does fall on deaf ears.

    • The states entered into a compact with the federal government to recognize the licenses of out of state driver’s as valid in their separate states. the federal government did not impose this agreement. at least not directly. Instead, it merely provided that any state NOT signing would not be entitled to federal highway funds. Millions–and over time billions–of federal dollars to maintain highways was a sufficient incentive to induce acceptance of the compact.

      At present, there is no similar incentive with respect to concealed carry reciprocity. Further, either mandatory reciprocity or a federal CCW would engender universal firearms registration with the federal government, which is currently illegal under federal law–and probably should remain so to prevent national seizures of firearms.

      • How about if the proceeds from the Pittman-Robertson Act be withheld from any state not offering reciprocity?

  1. Seems like a combination of Equal Protection, Full Faith & Credit and 2nd Amendment problem. A good decision could knock out my 13 state problem.

    • I have a 9 state, DC, and NYC problem. I managed to convert my NY permit to non-resident after I fled.

  2. Gman – driver’s licenses are (I believe) generally considered under the Full Faith and Credit clause in the US Constitution. Similarly with Marriage licenses.
    The question is why CCP / CWPs don’t fall under that same category. I’d be interested in hearing “legal analysis” as to why that clause should / shouldn’t apply for CCP / CWPs (independent of whether CCP / CWPs are “constitutional in the first place”).

    I understand that there are other licenses (law licenses, teaching licenses, …) that are not held under the Full Faith and Credit clause.

    • BoF,
      The problem is we play by the Constitutional rule book and the other side does not. They simply don’t care how outrageous their contrived laws are. They know they will be bantered about in the courts for years. And then they craft new contrived laws and start the process all over again. We need to step up and swing away. Play their game. Imagine the outrage of the citizens of the dozen or so communist states when they are no longer permitted to enter the free states without being subject to arrest. Because that’s what happens to us if we choose to enter their states whilst exercising our right to keep and bear arms.

      • Unfortunately, you are correct that the moral high road will not serve short or long term purposes.
        However, both paths require significant resources, on both sides, because the Government is (rarely) liable for violating Civil Rights. Of course, to the anti-gun group, 2A isn’t a Civil Right in the first place.

  3. Of course all this is created by the unconstitutional limits placed upon the 2nd Amendment in the first place. No other right requires a governmental permission slip. Bruen may be a push in the right direction, but every judicial “test” fails to recognize the 2nd as a right and continues to put limits upon it. Would we put up with a limit upon the words allowed to be used in this place or that? How about registration and permission to go to church? The very definition of a “right”, as opposed to a privilege, is the right is unlimited; all stop. Yes, Virginia, you can yell fire in a crowded theatre where none exists. Nothing is preventing you from exercising your free speech right. Now if through that exercise you harm others, yep culpability is certainly constitutional. THE only logical fix for all of this is for SCOTUS to restore the 2nd to 1st status and clearly state that there are NO ACCEPTABLE limits upon the exercise of the 2nd Amendment protected right to keep and bear arms. So endeth the lesson.


  5. Even if California is forced to recognize non-resident permits, you certainly don’t want to be in a self-defense situation in that state. Prosecutors will hit you with everything they can to make an example of you.

    • Because in their clown world, criminals have rights and serfs, err citizens, do not.

    • Some will, some won’t. Kind of depends on where you live. However, California does apply a presumption that a person acts in self-defense if a bad guy breaks and enters into one’s abode without permission. Add to that that the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not act in self-defense. So the deck is stacked in many cases against the prosecutor.

  6. Hopefully, they will be more successful than Peruta v. San Diego County where once again a district court got it right, a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit got it right, and the Ninth Circuit en blanc did their normal thing. Unfortunately, SCOTUS at the time denied cert. This SCOTUS may well be different. We can only hope because there are other states with similar laws.

    • Mostly only the coast would sink into the sea, leaving Sacramento still standing. However, that would be good enough since most everyone left would be a conservative.

  7. Since the state of confusion considers gun ownership a privelege, akin to driving then thay can’t interfere with out of state carriers as they can’t interfere with out of state drivers….simple logic.

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