By Larry Keane
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom might be pining for a bid at the country’s highest political office but he needs a refresher on Civics 101. Specifically, he should get a refresh of how the courts decide the constitutionality of law.
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His message to law-abiding Californians and the judge whose recent rulings struck down his previous gun control laws was clear: Shove it.
Gun Restrictions Repeat
Gov. Newsom held a press conference with Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta and several Democratic antigun state legislators announcing a new round of strict gun control measures.
At the media event, Gov. Newsom announced his support for expanded concealed carry restrictions. There was no mention of cracking down on criminals – just those who obey the law. His new plan includes banning concealed carry in churches, public libraries, zoos, amusement parks, playgrounds, banks and other privately-owned businesses open to the public.
The U.S. Supreme Court warned that overly inclusive “sensitive places” laws would run afoul of the Second Amendment. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in the majority opinion, stated encompassing broad areas as sensitive places simply because police are present for public protection is casting a net too wide.
“It is true that people sometimes congregate in ‘sensitive places,’ and it is likewise true that law enforcement professionals are usually presumptively available in those locations,” Justice Thomas wrote. “But expanding the category of ‘sensitive places’ simply to all places of public congregation that are not isolated from law enforcement defines the category of ‘sensitive places’ far too “broadly.”
That didn’t matter – the proposal had the governor’s full-throated support. The proposed legislation would also ban any Californian under the age of 21 from having a permit to carry a concealed gun despite 18-year-olds being fully vested in their Constitutional rights as adults.
Bad History Lesson
Gov. Newsom has never seen a gun control law he didn’t love. His disdain for the Second Amendment is so deep that he’s even attacked the First Amendment rights of the firearm industry as an end around to further limit the Second Amendment rights of Californians.
Last year, Gov. Newsom signed a law attacking firearm industry businesses for their protected free speech in advertising because he believes youth recreational and target shooting leagues will lead to “mass shooting and mass destruction” events. As a result, the California State High School Clay Target League – a nationally renowned youth league – shuttered.
At the time, league president John Nelson wrote, “The League is the safest sport in high school. Over 1,500 schools across the nation have approved our program. Hundreds of thousands of students have participated, and there has never been an accident or injury.”
The governor was forced to walk back portions of the hastily passed bill when it became apparent that hunting safety courses – required for state hunting licenses – would be affected.
Also last year Gov. Newsom signed into law AB 1594, a bill that would allow AG Bonta to help public and private parties sue firearm manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of firearms. This law is strikingly similar and modeled on a New Jersey law that a federal judge last week enjoined the state from enforcing because it was a transparent attempt to circumvent the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and therefore unconstitutional. NSSF will soon file a lawsuit against Attorney General Bonta in federal court to challenge the constitutionally of AB 1594. By the way, AG Bonta is the same attorney general whose office “leaked” the personal and confidential information of California pistol permit holders.
A victory for California’s lawful gun owners also came in 2021, when U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez struck down the decades-old ban on semiautomatic rifles, Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs).
“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection,” Judge Benitez wrote. “The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns. Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”
“This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” Judge Benitez continued.
There are currently more than 24.4 million commonly-owned MSRs in circulation today since 1990.
Gov. Newsom called the judge an “idealogue” with a “history only approach.” It’s the same judge who just two months ago blocked another antigun law that would force those bringing lawsuits against California’s restrictive laws to pay the legal fees, therefore causing attorneys to shy away from taking cases against gun control.
Gov. Newsom’s ire toward gun owners is a sharp contrast to his soft-on-crime approach. In 2021, the police department in California’s largest city had a message to residents:
“If you are being robbed, do not resist the robbery suspects; cooperate and comply with their demands. Be a good witness,” they said in a press release.
By enacting even more unconstitutional gun restrictions on law-abiding Californians, Gov. Newsom told citizens their rights and safety don’t matter. He will flaunt his gun control obsessions no matter the cost to personal safety and ignore the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Californians, even if it costs them millions in court.
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