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California legislators prepared for Supreme Court unraveling of concealed weapon restrictions

Guided by Thursday's Supreme Court decision in New York Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, lawmakers will look at expanding the list of public places where concealed firearms will not be permitted.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California legislators spent months this year preparing for the Supreme Court’s anticipated unraveling of New York’s concealed-carry weapons law.

That day came Thursday.

At a press conference after the ruling came down, California Attorney General Rob Bonta — flanked by several state Assembly members and senators — said lawmakers are prepared to vote on Senate Bill 918, which addresses issues flagged in New York Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.

“Your right to live without fear of gun violence should not be trumped by a person’s right to carry a gun,” Bonta said.

To comply with the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, Bonta said California would ax its own “good cause” requirement for applicants for concealed-carry weapons permits.

But Bonta pointed out the Supreme Court did affirm states’ rights to use “non-subjective” criteria for issuing concealed weapons permits — prior arrests, convictions, restraining orders, background checks, fingerprinting, firearms training and mental health evaluations.

“States like California still have many venues to prevent senseless deaths and we’re going to use those avenues,” Bonta said.

State Senator Anthony Portantino, the author of SB 918, said the bill would be considered on Tuesday by the Assembly’s public safety committee.

It has already passed the stat Senate.

Portantino said state attorneys would recommend amendments to SB 918 prior to Tuesday’s hearing to ensure the proposed law complies with the constitutional boundaries set out in Bruen.

But like the “non-subjective” criteria Bonta said California could use to approve or deny concealed weapons permits, Portantino said California can expand on a list of places Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas listed in the 6-3 ruling Thursday where concealed weapons can continue to be prohibited, including airports and courthouses.

“It is our goal to move quickly, prudently, decisively to make sure your families — our families — are protected on Main Street California,” Portantino said, noting legislators would look at banning concealed weapons in places of public congregation like parks, amusement parks and sports venues.

Portantino said prior gun laws he wrote including California’s ban on the open carry of handguns and long guns should hold up to Bruen because they include those “non-subjective” criteria the state is considering expanding.        

In a statement Thursday following the Supreme Court decision, Governor Gavin Newsom said the Golden State had anticipated the ruling.

“But make no mistake: this is a radical decision. Today’s court thinks that gun regulations should be frozen in time, and that if there wasn’t a similar law in existence in the 1700s or 1800s, then a state can’t pass it now, no matter how important it is to protect people from the modern horror of gun violence,” Newsom said.

The governor added expects to sign 16 new gun laws in the coming week, including a bill allowing individuals to sue gun makers and distributors for violating certain gun laws.

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