California law banning guns in certain public places temporarily halted by judge

A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a California law that would have banned carrying firearms in most public places, ruling that it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and deprives people of their ability to defend themselves and their loved ones.

The law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September was set to take effect Jan. 1. It would have prohibited people from carrying concealed guns in 26 places including public parks and playgrounds, churches, banks and zoos. The ban would apply whether the person has a permit to carry a concealed weapon or not. One exception would be for privately owned businesses that put up signs saying people are allowed to bring guns on their premises.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney granted a preliminary injunction blocking the law, which he wrote was “sweeping, repugnant to the Second Amendment, and openly defiant of the Supreme Court.”

The decision is a victory for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, which sued to block the law. The measure overhauled the state’s rules for concealed carry permits in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which set several states scrambling to react with their own laws. That decision said the constitutionality of gun laws must be assessed by whether they are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

“California progressive politicians refuse to accept the Supreme Court’s mandate from the Bruen case and are trying every creative ploy they can imagine to get around it,” the California association’s president, Chuck Michel, said in a statement. “The Court saw through the State’s gambit.”

Michel said under the law, gun permit holders “wouldn’t be able to drive across town without passing through a prohibited area and breaking the law.” He said the judge’s decision makes Californians safer because criminals are deterred when law-abiding citizens can defend themselves.

Newsom said he will keep pushing for stricter gun measures.

“Defying common sense, this ruling outrageously calls California’s data-backed gun safety efforts ‘repugnant.’ What is repugnant is this ruling, which greenlights the proliferation of guns in our hospitals, libraries, and children’s playgrounds — spaces, which should be safe for all,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday evening.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta also decried the ruling, saying he was planning to appeal it. 

“If allowed to stand, this decision would endanger communities by allowing guns in places where families and children gather,” Bonta said in a statement. “Guns in sensitive public places do not make our communities safer, but rather the opposite. More guns in more sensitive places makes the public less safe; the data supports it. I have directed my team to file an appeal to overturn this decision. We believe the court got this wrong, and that SB 2 adheres to the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in Bruen. We will seek the opinion of the appellate court to make it right.”  

Newsom has positioned himself as a national leader on gun control while he is being increasingly eyed as a potential presidential candidate. He has called for and signed a variety of bills, including measures targeting untraceable “ghost guns,” the marketing of firearms to children and allowing people to bring lawsuits over gun violence. That legislation was patterned on a Texas anti-abortion law.

Carney is a former Orange County Superior Court judge who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2003.

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