A federal district court judge in California did not spare anyone’s sensitivities when he issued a preliminary injunction against California’s “sensitive places” law, known as SB 2, calling the law “sweeping, repugnant to the Second Amendment, and openly defiant of the Supreme Court.”
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, a George W. Bush appointee, pulled no punches in his 43-page ruling, granting a preliminary injunction and handing gun rights groups including the Second Amendment Foundation, a significant victory.
The law was California’s response to the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a landmark 6-3 decision which struck down the Empire State’s century-old concealed carry permit statute as unconstitutional.
Instead of complying with the high court’s ruling and changing its long-standing concealed carry policy, lawmakers in California—led by anti-gun Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta—doubled down and produced Senate Bill 2, which virtually designated all private property open to the public to be a “sensitive place” where licensed concealed carry is prohibited.
SAF and its partners—Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of California, the California Rifle & Pistol Association, Liberal Gun Owners Association and eleven private citizens—filed suit in September. They are represented by attorneys C.D. Michel, Sean A. Brady and Konstadinos T. Moros at Michel & Associates in Long Beach, and Donald Kilmer, Law Offices of Don Kilmer, Caldwell, Idaho. The case is known as May v. Bonta.
A jubilant Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, declared in a statement to the press, “SB2 is not only an affront to the right to keep and bear arms, it’s an insult to the intelligence of every honest citizen in the Golden State. It amounts to a massive prohibition on legal carry throughout the state, which runs counter to what the U.S. Supreme Court said in its Bruen ruling last year. Thankfully, Judge Carney sent a message to Gov. Newsom and anti-gun-rights state lawmakers that they can’t get away with this.”
In his ruling, Judge Carney noted, “The right to self-defense and to defend one’s family is fundamental and inherent to our very humanity irrespective of any formal codification…For many years, the right to bear arms, and so necessarily the right to self-defense, was relegated to second-class status.”
SB 2 is so restrictive that it essentially renders a concealed carry permit to be a useless document. Provisions in the statute, as noted by Judge Carney in his ruling, prohibit permit holders from legally carrying in the following locations”
- Hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, medical offices, urgent care facilities, and other places where medical services are customarily provided,
- Public transportation,
- Establishments where intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption on the premises,
- Public gatherings and special events,
- Playgrounds and private youth centers,
- Parks and athletic facilities,
- Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Fish and Wildlife property, except hunting areas,
- Casinos and gambling establishments,
- Stadiums and arenas,
- Public libraries,
- Amusement parks,
- Zoos and museums,
- Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship,
- Financial institutions
- Any other privately owned commercial establishment that is open to the public, unless the operator clearly and conspicuously posts a sign indicating that license holders are permitted to carry firearms on the property.
“SB 2 is deliberately designed to frustrate and ultimately discourage individuals from exercising their right to bear arms by creating a patchwork of locations where Second Amendment rights may, or may not, be exercised,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “We’re delighted that Judge Carney saw through this sham.”
The judge noted, “Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the challenged SB2 sections violate the Second Amendment.”
A few pages later, Judge Carney takes a swipe at California’s inability to justify its restrictive law.
“Given the nation’s history and tradition of protecting the core right to carry a firearm to those wishing to defend themselves and their families in case of confrontation,” Judge Carney writes, “it is unsurprising that the government does not offer a single historical prohibition on carrying firearms at hospitals or medical offices, much less one limiting carry by a category of people that is particularly responsible and trained and whom the government has background checked.”
The ruling goes through each “sensitive place” designation and dismantles the state’s arguments. After all of this, Judge Carney observes, “The balance of the equities and the public interest weigh in favor of granting an injunction here. Without a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of the challenged SB2 provisions, Plaintiffs will suffer harm because the government will infringe their Second Amendment rights.”
The state will no doubt appeal Judge Carney’s ruling to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Ultimately, the case could be headed to the Supreme Court.