California's ban on most public firearm possession is now in effect

The legislation bans people from carrying concealed firearms in 26 locations, including parks and playgrounds, churches, banks and zoos.
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 01, 2024

Effective New Year's Day, a California law now bans people from carrying firearms in most public places, despite an ongoing court case contesting its validity.

This law states that in addition to churches, schools, and government buildings, places such as public parks, zoos, stadiums, and public transit are now among the 26 public locations where firearms are no longer allowed.

As anticipated, this contentious issue has already faced legal challenges, and U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney blocked the law on Dec. 20, citing Second Amendment violations.

Carney called the law “sweeping” and “repugnant,” adding that "SB2 turns nearly every public place in California into a 'sensitive place,' effectively abolishing the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding and exceptionally qualified citizens to be armed and to defend themselves in public.”

Then, on Saturday, Dec. 30, a federal appeals court stepped in to allow this law to take effect by halting the lower court’s ruling. The appeals court ruling permits the implementation of the law amid the ongoing legal battle. Attorneys are slated to submit arguments to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in both January and February.

All of this is laying the groundwork for a potential significant Supreme Court battle, a scenario Gov. Gavin Newsom foresaw when he signed the bill in September. 

“We anticipate all of them to take effect because we think they're sound and we think they will pass scrutiny," said Newsom. 

The one exception to California’s new law is for private businesses that specifically grant permission for gun owners to bring their firearms.

California is not alone in implementing new gun laws on New Year's Day. 

Illinois, with what are arguably some of the most robust gun laws besides California, has enacted a law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that bans the sale, possession, or manufacturing of automatic weapons. Owners of such weapons are not required to surrender or dispose of them, but they must register them with the state. 

Regarding constitutionality, the Supreme Court has already declined to hear this case, and it has also received approval from a U.S. Appeals Court in Illinois. Consequently, the law is secure for the time being and can be enforced.

With this, there are now 10 states with assault weapons bans in place.

Beyond outright bans, Minnesota and Michigan have implemented red-flag laws. Red-flag laws empower family members and law enforcement to petition a court to remove guns in specific situations. Michigan is also implementing a more comprehensive background check process and safe storage laws for households with children.

Additionally, Washington State is extending its 10-day waiting period requirement from covering only semiautomatic weapons, to now include any firearm purchased in the state.

Several of these states, including Michigan and Illinois, have experienced high-profile mass shooting tragedies in recent years, such as the Michigan State University shooting in February 2023 and the Highland Park Parade shooting in Illinois in July 2022.

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