January 16, 2024 – 2023 Senate Bill 2, (“SB 2”), a controversial new California law that aims to impose sweeping restrictions on carrying firearms in most public places in that state was blocked from taking effect – once again – on Saturday. Thus, California’s carry laws go back to the “status quo” as a case challenging SB2’s constitutionality continues to make its way through the courts. This is the next step in a back-and-forth legal battle over the law.
The new rules had taken effect on January 1, 2024, after an administrative stay was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, blocking an injunction issued by the lower court. However, the Ninth Circuit dissolved this stay keeping in place a Dec. 20, 2023 ruling by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney that blocked the law, finding that it violates the Second Amendment and that gun rights groups would likely prevail in proving it unconstitutional.
SB 2 bans concealed carry permitholders from bringing their certified firearms in the state’s newly created gun-free zones, which cover most public places, including privately-owned commercial establishments open to the public, unless its operator “clearly and conspicuously posts a sign” indicating license holders may carry their firearms on the property. The ban would apply regardless of whether a person has a concealed carry permit. This law closely mimics New York’s law prohibiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive or restricted locations, which was found unconstitutional, in part, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last month.
In his decision, District Judge Carney relied upon the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which upheld the right to carry guns in public for self-defense. Judge Carney stated that “California will not allow concealed carry permitholders to effectively practice what the Second Amendment promises. SB2’s coverage is sweeping, repugnant to the Second Amendment, and openly defiant of the Supreme Court.”
It is noteworthy that two federal appeals courts, which have historically been hesitant to strike down gun-control laws based on the Second Amendment, have taken these recent positions. California is a large market for the firearms industry, although its gun control laws are highly restrictive and, as evidenced by SB 2, aim to become even more so. However, if SB 2 were to ultimately be struck down, it would be a huge victory for Second Amendment protections, and advantageous to law-abiding gun owners and the industry as a whole. While this most recent ruling is a positive development for the protection of Second Amendment rights, it is not the end of the legal battle over SB 2. The 9th Circuit  will hear further arguments in these cases, Carralero v. Bonta and May v. Bonta, in April.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor cases challenging SB 2, and other firearm related legislation around the country. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation or litigation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.