LOS ANGELES: California’s governor condemned as “reckless” Thursday’s (Jun 23) Supreme Court ruling that could have a dramatic impact on half a dozen US states with strict gun carry laws.
Gavin Newsom, who oversees the most populous state in the union, and one with some of the most restrictive rules on firearms, said the 6-3 decision by the right-leaning court “erases a commonsense gun safety law”.
But he vowed the progressive state would push on with making new gun laws.
“Our state is ready with a bill that will be heard next week to update and strengthen our public-carry law and make it consistent with the Supreme Court ruling,” he said.
“Next week, I will have 16 new gun safety bills on my desk, including a bill that will allow individuals to sue gun makers and distributors for violating certain gun laws. I look forward to signing all of those bills.”
Thursday’s ruling strikes down a century-old New York law that required a person to prove they had a legitimate self-defence need, or “proper cause”, in order to receive a gun permit.
Dozens of states already allow the almost unfettered carrying of weapons in public, but six Democratic-run states retain a high degree of control over who gets a permit. The court’s ruling will curb their ability to restrict people from carrying guns in public.
Alongside New York and California, the states of Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey all require “proper cause” permits, as does the District of Columbia.
The exact rules and how they are enforced vary by county in California because permits are issued by the local sheriff or police department, who have latitude to interpret “proper cause”.
In Republican-run counties in rural parts of the state, there may be a presumption towards issuing a permit, provided the applicant takes a gun safety class and does not have a criminal record.
‘MITIGATE THE DAMAGE’
But in liberal-run cities like San Francisco guidelines show the sheriff will only issue a permit to someone at specific and “significant risk of danger to life” that cannot be mitigated by law enforcement officers.
Applicants must also prove they are of “good moral character”, with no history of arrest or “moral turpitude”.
The Supreme Court ruling does not immediately remove policies like this, but it opens the door to legal challenges that could reverse them.
New York City’s police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, said the ruling did not change the facts on the ground, for now at least.
“If you carry a gun illegally in New York City, you will be arrested,” she said.