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Things to know about a federal judge's ruling temporarily blocking California's gun law

This Nov. 27, 2019, file photo shows "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco.
Haven Daley
This Nov. 27, 2019, file photo shows "ghost guns" on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco.

Democrats running California's government have passed some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but those efforts to restrict firearm access are increasingly facing successful challenges in court.

Gun rights groups have been aggressively fighting the laws, often winning initial rulings in their favor before heading to appeal. They've gotten a recent boost from the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which set a new standard for interpreting gun laws. That standard says gun laws must be assessed by whether they are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

They won again on Wednesday, when a federal judge temporarily blocked a law that would ban people from carrying guns in most public places.


What did the law do?

The law banned people from carrying guns in most public places. The list included all daycare and school grounds, college campuses, government and judicial buildings, medical facilities, public parks and playgrounds, correctional institutions, public transit, public demonstrations and gatherings, athletic and professional sporting facilities, public libraries, amusement parks, zoos and museums, places of worship, banks, polling places, gambling establishments, any place where alcohol is sold and any other privately owned commercial establishment that is open to the public — unless the business owner put up a sign saying guns are OK.

Why did California have this law?

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York's law that required people to show a need for carrying a gun when applying for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. California's law was similar to New York's law. This year, the Democrats who control the state Legislature passed a new law that they said compiled with the court's ruling.


Why did the judge block it?

Cormac Carney, a U.S. district judge in Los Angeles who was appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush, said the law went too far. Carney said the law means lawful gun owners won't be allowed to carry guns in nearly every public place in California. He said this effectively abolished “the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding and exceptionally qualified citizens to be armed and to defend themselves in public.” He also noted California has a lengthy application and thorough background check for people wanting a permit.

What happens next?

The law was supposed to take effect on Jan. 1. Now, the law is on hold while the case makes its way through the federal court system. California Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta said he will appeal the ruling, saying “we believe the court got this wrong.” The case could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Carney said he thought the law would ultimately be struck down.

What other California gun laws are facing challenges?

Other California gun laws facing lawsuits include requiring gun stores to have digital surveillance systems, banning detachable magazines that have more than 10 bullets, restricting the sale of new handguns in the state, requiring state officials to pre-approve all ammunition sales and banning the sale of assault-style weapons. All of those are at various stages of the legal process, which can sometimes take years to complete.

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