Backed by Newsom, California Democrats revive changes to state concealed carry law

Concealed Carry

A week after back-to-back mass shootings left 18 people dead in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, Governor Gavin Newsom threw his support behind a bill to ban concealed weapons in a wide variety of public spaces and raise the minimum age to hold a concealed carry permit. 

The bill is driven in part by a need to align the state’s concealed carry laws after some provisions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The court found New York’s — and those in many other blue states, including California — concealed weapons law was too restrictive. 

As a result, SB2, proposed by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), would remove provisions requiring a “good moral character” and “good cause” for those seeking concealed weapons permits. 

But state lawmakers also want to restrict firearms from certain public places, including public transit, parks, stadiums, amusement parks, banks and more. The bill would ban firearms in those places, though in some cases, business owners would be able to post signs stating that licensed permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons.

“I will be signing this legislation,” Newsom said, backed by state lawmakers and gun violence prevention advocates Wednesday. “Gun safety saves lives. More guns equals more lives lost.” 

The bill would also raise the minimum age to hold a concealed weapons permit from 18 to 21.

Lawmakers and Attorney General Rob Bonta say they believe the provision will hold up to legal scrutiny, despite a federal judge ruling last year the state’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to those under 21 is unconstitutional.  

“The general gun purchase age in California is 21,” Portantino said. “It’s consistent with California law and we think it’s going to withstand constitutional muster.”

Bonta added that the default ban on concealed weapons in many public places is currently undergoing a legal challenge in New York, which could affect whether that provision stays in the bill. He said he believes it “strikes the right balance between property ownership rights and gun safety.” 

“Of course we have private property ownership rights,” he said. Under the proposal, “the default is concealed carry weapons are not allowed. If you affirmatively state that you, on your own property, want to allow them, then the bill allows for that.”

The National Rifle Association has listed SB2 among the California bills it is opposing this year.  NRA Spokesman Lars Dalseide called the bill “a political stunt that will not make Californians any safer.”

A similar bill failed to pass on the final night of the legislative session last August. That version was crafted to take effect immediately and needed a two-thirds majority to pass. 

The version introduced this year does not include an urgency clause, though Portantino said he may add one in at a later time.

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