Attorney General Bonta: Property Owners Should Not Be Forced to Allow Guns on Their Properties

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Defends NY rule that would require property owners’ consent for guns in homes, businesses, and private property

OAKLAND­ — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a multistate coalition, joined an amicus brief in support of a New York law that would criminalize possession of a weapon on a person’s private property without the owner’s express consent. The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Christian v. Nigrelli urges reversal of a district court decision that would halt immediate enforcement of the law. The coalition of 16 attorneys general argue in the brief that New York’s restriction is one in a long line of government regulations designed to make gun possession and use safer for the public, and is a lawful exercise of states’ regulatory and police powers to enact such a law. 

 “In no way does the Second Amendment create a free-for-all rule that guns will be allowed anywhere, at any time, and for any purpose,” said Attorney General Bonta.  “New York’s law empowers property owners to determine whether and under what conditions others can bring guns onto their property and ensures that gun owners abide by the wishes of property owners; it does not interfere with the exercise of Second Amendment rights. We urge the court to overturn this decision. At a time when more Americans are dying from gun violence than ever before, States must be permitted to take commonsense actions to protect the public.”

Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. On average, there are over 120 gun deaths each day and nearly 45,000 each year in the U.S.  While the cost of a loss of life cannot be truly quantified, studies show that the economic consequence of gun violence in the nation is $557 billion annually, with the average annual cost for every American resident at $1,698

The Attorney General added that States have clear authority to implement reasonable measures designed to respond to the needs of their communities and protect their residents from the harms of gun violence. National surveys indicate that a majority of the public supports a “no carry” default rule prohibiting public carry in residences, places of employment, and retail establishments absent the owner’s consent. This preference was even more pronounced in New York — only 38% of respondents thought that customers should be allowed to carry firearms into retail stores by default, and only 29% thought service providers should be allowed to carry firearms into homes by default. New York’s law reflects these local preferences without interfering with Second Amendment rights. 

Although the United States is an outlier when compared to gun violence in other wealthy nations, states with strong gun violence protections in place see fewer gun-related deaths. Already in 2023, the U.S. has seen 43 mass shootings, including six tragedies over the past two weeks in California in Goshen, Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, Oakland, San Diego, and Beverly Crest — 30 lives lost, and still more seriously injured. Despite having one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths in the nation, California is not immune to this uniquely American problem, and has a strong interest in maintaining laws that protect the safety of its citizens

The coalition urges the Second Circuit to overturn the district court’s decision, which has been stayed pending review by the appellate court. In the brief, the coalition argues that New York’s rule should be upheld because it:

  • Does not interfere with the exercise of Second Amendment rights; the Second Amendment does not include the right to carry firearms on another person’s private property without their consent;
  • Sets a default rule that protects public safety and at the same time preserves the rights of both property owners and gun owners;
  • Helps the public identify those privately-owned businesses that permit the carrying of firearms on the premises;
  • Is consistent with default rules that currently exist in other states.

Attorney General Bonta joins the District of Columbia, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington in filing the brief, which can be viewed here.

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