Federal Judge: California’s ‘Sensitive Places’ Limits on Concealed Carry Unconstitutional

Gavin Newsom
Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney issued a preliminary injunction against California’s “sensitive places” law, noting that it is “openly defiant to the Supreme Court.”

On September 26, 2023, Breitbart News reported Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a “sensitive places” bill into law, expanding the number of gun-free zones in which licensed concealed carriers could not carry firearms for self-defense.

A lawsuit was filed against the new law. Plaintiffs in the case included a number of California concealed carry permit holders, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Gun Owners of America.

The plaintiffs sought “a preliminary injunction enjoining California from enforcing the challenged sensitive-place provisions, asserting that many of those restrictions violate their Second Amendment rights and deprive them of their ability to defend themselves and their loved ones in public.”

Judge Carney weighed the “sensitive places” law in light of Bruen’s (2022) demand that contemporary gun controls demonstrate historical precedent in America’s firearm tradition and found it lacking. He noted that California lawmakers relied on eccentric, exceptional laws to bolster their “sensitive places” ban instead of common tradition.

For example, in barring concealed carry permit holders from being armed for self-defense in casinos, stadiums, arenas, and amusement parks, California lawmakers pointed to “the 1786 Virginia terror in fair or markets law, the 1816 New Orleans ‘public ballroom’ weapon coat check law, the 1853 New Mexico law banning firearms at ‘Balls or Fandangos,’ and the 1882 New Orleans law regulating carry in theaters, public halls, places for shows or exhibitions, or other places of public entertainment or amusement.”

But Carney pointed out, “The Virginia ‘terror’ law and the nineteenth-century New Mexico and New Orleans laws do not reflect a well-established, representative historical tradition of preventing vetted and trained permitholders from carrying firearms for self-defense in casinos, stadiums, arenas, amusement parks, or similar locations.”

Regarding the “sensitive places” restriction on carrying a gun for self-defense in houses of worship, Carney said, “[California’s] government fails to present evidence of a history and tradition of prohibiting trained and vetted permitholders from carrying handguns for self-defense in places of worship where in this day and age they are increasingly likely to meet confrontation.”

Carney concluded, “CCW permitholders are not the gun wielders legislators should fear. … Indeed, CCW permitholders are not responsible for any of the mass shootings or horrific gun violence that has occurred in California.”

He then focused on the interest of self-preservation, quoting from Heller (2008) to make his point:

Contrary to this interest, [California’s ‘sensitive places’ law] requires that law-abiding citizens open themselves up for slaughter at the hands of people flaunting the law and creates numerous areas ripe for mass murder by ensuring there is no one there to protect people before “the intervention of society in his behalf.”

Carney decided that “The challenged…[California] provisions unconstitutionally deprive…[licensed concealed permit holders] of their constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.”

Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan Gottlieb commented on the decision in a statement:

[California’s ‘sensitive places’ law] 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.

The case is May v. Bonta, No. 8:23-cv-1696 in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010, a speaker at the 2023 Western Conservative Summit, and he holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.