OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a coalition of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending New York’s law regulating when individuals may obtain a license to carry firearms in public. The coalition argues that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not provide Americans with an unrestricted right to carry loaded firearms in virtually all public places, but instead, in keeping with centuries of tradition, allows states to enact policies regulating public carry that are tailored to local public safety concerns and needs.
“Nothing in our Constitution’s text or our country’s history and traditions requires States to authorize the public carry of loaded firearms on demand,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While we’ve taken different approaches to regulation, nearly every state in this country has laws regulating public carry. In California, for example, laws are more permissive in remote and unpopulated areas, but local officials are able to use their discretion and account for what will keep the public safest when determining how strict public carry laws should be in populated cities and towns. Stripping states and local jurisdictions of this ability to protect our residents is inconsistent with policies that States and cities have adopted for hundreds of years and it would put the public in danger.”
In California, carrying a loaded, concealed firearm in public is generally prohibited unless a person has been issued a license. Local law enforcement also has discretion when issuing carrying concealed weapons (CCW) licenses. The sheriff of a county may issue a CCW once they’ve received proof of all of the following: a background check; good moral character; good cause to issue the license; proof of residency, employment, or business in the county or city within the county; and the completion of a firearms safety course. These laws were created and passed with the unique needs of Californians in mind.
A one-size-fits-all approach to regulating public carry would take away the ability of officials, democratically elected by the people of their states, to address the unique public safety needs of their residents. In this case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, the petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to grant Americans the right to carry loaded firearms anytime, in virtually any public place – disregarding the established practice that States and local governments may regulate the public carry of firearms in their jurisdictions.
In today’s brief, the coalition argues that throughout the history of this country, public carry regulations have varied from region to region, and that tradition actually goes back more than 700 years in England and pre-dates the founding of the United States. Regulations today and centuries ago “varied substantially between and within the States—the result of accountable policymakers enacting regulatory schemes tailored to local needs and conditions.”
Attorney General Bonta is committed to keeping Californians safe, and does so by promoting and defending commonsense gun laws at the state and federal level. In August, the Attorney General supported a Proposed Rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that would help regulate ghost guns by clarifying the agency’s definition of what qualifies as a firearm. Attorney General Bonta has also urged Californians to use the state’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law to help keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others. The Attorney General is currently defending California’s own commonsense regulations, including the state’s assault weapons ban and prohibition on large capacity magazines.
In filing the brief, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available here.