Under Bruen, California will have to show that its restrictions are “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” In this context, [May v. Bonta] says, that means “all law-abiding, competent adults” have “the right to carry firearms and ammunition for self-defense in all public areas that have not historically been considered ‘sensitive places’ or their modern analogues based on relevant history.”
Before S.B. 2 was enacted, federal judges had concluded that similar restrictions in New York and New Jersey failed the Bruen test. While California legislators were considering S.B. 2, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order against several of that state’s location-specific gun bans. Three days after Newsom signed S.B. 2, a federal judge blocked enforcement of Maryland’s restrictions on firearms near public demonstrations, its ban on carrying guns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and its presumptive rule against guns in other businesses open to the public.
Unfazed by those warnings, California is forging ahead with a policy that defies Bruen while pretending to comply with it. At a February 1 press conference announcing the introduction of S.B. 2, its supporters lamented the “radical Bruen ruling” and the resulting “flood of applicants” for carry permits while expressing the hope that the bill would mitigate the “disastrous effect of the Bruen decision.” As the complaint in May v. Bonta notes, Newsom himself called Bruen “a very bad ruling” and “used air quotes when discussing the ‘right’ to carry firearms outside the home, making his contempt for the Constitution clear.”