Lawsuit Challenges California’s Ban on Firearms in ‘Sensitive Places’ Like Stadiums, Public Transit and a ‘No-Carry Default Provision’ for Private Property
The lawsuit challenges California’s attempt to expand the scope of permissible “sensitive place” bans beyond places recognized by the Supreme Court.
A lawsuit filed on September 26 on behalf of several California gun owners challenges the state’s ban on concealed carry in “sensitive places” and private property generally. The plaintiffs, concealed carry license holders, seek an injunction allowing them to carry at the challenged locations.
The California Attorney General’s Office is “reviewing the complaint” and reaffirmed its “commit[ment] to passing and defending commonsense, constitutional gun laws that will save lives” in response to questions from Legal Insurrection.
The ban covers much public property, including parks and mass transit, as well as casinos, stadiums, and arenas. The ban also has a “no-carry default provision that prohibits carry on all private commercial property open to the public,” unless the proprietor expressly consents to on-property carry.
The complaint alleges numerous provisions of the ban run counter to New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down a New York law effectively banning carry outside the home. Bruen provided the framework needed to assess the constitutionality of gun laws like California’s:
[W]hen 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.
“Bruen,” according to the complaint, “has already established that the Second Amendment covers plaintiffs’ proposed conduct here—carrying arms publicly for self-defense and other lawful purposes.” The burden thus shifts to California to show the ban comports “with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
California cannot meet this burden, the complaint argues, because “sensitive place” restrictions must be “sufficiently analogous to a ‘well-established and representative historical analogue,'” of which “[t]he Court has identified only three” possibly relevant to the ban from the Founding Era: “legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses.”
“The unifying principle allowing arms to be restricted in these locations at the Founding,” according to the complaint, “was comprehensive government-provided security.” The government provides no such security at the challenged locations.
In any attempt to expand the definition of “sensitive place,” California will fail under the Bruen test, the complaint argues, because the Supreme Court rejected analogous efforts from New York in Bruen:
Put simply, there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare the island of Manhattan a “sensitive place” simply because it is . . . protected generally by the New York City Police Department.
The ban, signed into law on September 26, is slated to take effect on January 1.DONATE
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