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Supreme Court ruling could affect California's gun restrictions

A recent Supreme Court decision will likely expand gun rights in California. The Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision on Thursday morning, tossing a New York gun control policy similar to California's current law.

Californa gun control controversy
Californa gun control controversy | KPCCA/Archives

June 23, 2022 5:16pm

Updated: June 25, 2022 11:31am

A recent Supreme Court decision will likely expand gun rights in California.

The Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision on Thursday morning, tossing a New York gun control policy similar to California's current law.

In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, the court deemed a New York gun law unconstitutional. The law required applicants for an unrestricted license to carry a concealed pistol to show "proper cause" in their permit application. The court ruled that this infringed on New Yorkers' Second Amendment rights.

In California, local law enforcement issues these permits, be it county sheriffs or city police chiefs. Under existing state law, applicants must provide "good cause" to local law enforcement – a term left up to interpretation by local law enforcement.

Although the law in California may not immediately change, it opens the possibility for the law to be challenged in court and struck down, as SFGate points out.

California Rifle & Pistol Association president Chuck Michel said the ruling shows the court respects the Second Amendment.

"The Supreme Court's decision today affirms again that laws infringing on the individual right to bear arms should be scrutinized with skepticism by courts," he told The Center Square in an email. "Governments cannot justify an infringement with a press conference. They must prove that a law actually works. The California Rifle & Pistol Association has the most experience and expertise for fighting for the Second Amendment in court. Today, the high court recognized that the Second Amendment must be respected, and that other courts, particularly the Ninth Circuit, have inappropriately refused to recognize the rights of the American people for far too long."

Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom was unhappy with the court's decision.

"While this reckless decision erases a commonsense gun safety law that existed for decades, California anticipated this moment," he said. "Our Administration has been working closely with the Attorney General and the legislature for months. Our state is ready with a bill that will be heard next week to update and strengthen our public-carry law and make it consistent with the Supreme Court ruling, just as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh said states like California are free to do."

In the case, the justices cited District of Columbia v. Heller as precedent; it's a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that deemed Washington D.C.'s handgun ban unconstitutional.

"Under Heller, when the Second Amendment's plain text covers an individual's conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct, and to justify a firearm regulation the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation," Justice Clarence Thomas in the majority opinion.

Justice Samuel Alito issued a concurring opinion. In it, he said that the right to self-defense is "central to the Second Amendment" – and the facts haven't changed in the past 230 years.

"Today, unfortunately, many Americans have good reason to fear that they will be victimized if they are unable to protect themselves," Alito wrote. "And today, no less than in 1791, the Second Amendment guarantees their right to do so."