State legislators will consider a bill this spring that would tighten who can apply for a concealed carry weapon permit and where a permit holder is allowed to bring a concealed firearm.
State Bill 2, authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, would raise the age minimum for a concealed carry gun permit from 18 to 21 and would prohibit permit holders from bringing a gun into “sensitive places,” including polling places, health care facilities, playgrounds and public transit.
The bill also expands the training requirement for a concealed carry permit from a maximum of 16 hours to a minimum of 16 hours.
It would also add subjects to the permit training course like the safe storage and legal transportation of guns.
Portantino announced the bill Wednesday morning alongside gun control activists, co-authors of the bill including some Bay Area legislators, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“It ensures those carrying firearms in public are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Portantino said of SB 2. “That’s important. We’re not taking someone’s Second Amendment away, we’re ensuring that the Second Amendment is properly applicable to people who warrant getting a concealed carry permit.”
Portantino and other officials noted that they are walking a fine line in an effort to pass SB 2 after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.
In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that carrying a handgun in public solely for self-defense is constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment.
The ruling struck down a New York state law that had allowed licensing officials to reject concealed carry permit requests from applicants who did not show a special need to carry a gun outside of self-defense.
However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts co-wrote a concurring opinion in the case upholding that states still have latitude to implement certain requirements like a background check or safety training to obtain a concealed carry permit.
On Wednesday, state officials and gun control activists repeatedly decried that ruling and stressed that SB 2 is designed to be compliant with the court’s ruling in Bruen.
“The Supreme Court has made clear that there are two pathways where we can make progress to keep California safe and people safe,” Bonta said. “We can identify ‘sensitive places’ where concealed carry weapons should not be carried and that we can also have fair, objective safety evaluations before we provide a concealed carry weapon permit to an individual.”
Wednesday’s bill announcement comes just over a week after shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay killed a combined 19 people.
In the wake of the two shootings, Newsom has called for additional gun control measures and cited that the state’s existing policies have contributed to a statewide gun death rate that is nearly 40 percent below the national average.
“Gun safety saves lives,” Newsom said Wednesday. “More guns, more lives lost. The data is overwhelming.”
Brady Campaign President Kris Brown pointed to the state’s gun violence restraining order law, which allows a court to prevent someone from buying and owning a gun for up to one year if they are a threat to themselves or others, as having prevented 58 mass shooting threats between 2016, when it went into effect, and 2018.
“There are people alive today in this state because of the actions taken,” to curb access to guns, she said.
A similar bill authored by Portantino died on the Assembly floor last year.
That bill, SB 918, included an urgency clause, meaning it would have taken effect immediately rather than Jan. 1 of the following year. The urgency clause meant two-thirds of the legislature had to approve the bill rather than a standard majority.
SB 918 also had requirements for permit applicants to become qualified for a concealed carry permit. SB 2, however, assumes that applicants are qualified for a permit until proven otherwise.
“We had the votes until we didn’t have the votes,” said Bonta, who was serving in the Assembly during the vote on SB 918.
“There are folks who on another day and another time would have voted for the bill, just not that day and that night,” he said.
While the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the National Rifle Association’s affiliate in the state, did not respond to a request for comment on SB 2’s introduction, the organization celebrated SB 918’s failure last year, calling it “a bill that would have made it virtually impossible to carry a gun outside your home.”
Newsom, Portantino and Bonta were all resolute that SB 2 would have the votes this time and that it will fall on Newsom’s desk and receive his signature at some point this year.
“There’s a pattern,” Newsom said of the United States’ frequent mass shootings. “California has been solving for a pattern and it’s working. We’re saving lives, but we have more work to do.”