The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling 5-4 this morning in a challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban, ruled that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws.
As a practical matter, this means all kinds of state and local gun restrictions will now be subject to more judicial scrutiny. For California, it confirms the already-strong likelihood that AB 1934 – the pending bill that would outlaw “open carry” of unloaded, unconcealed firearms in public places – quickly will be met with a lawsuit if it’s signed into law.
AB 1934’s author is Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego; her office said she wasn’t available to be interviewed today, but issued this statement:
We are reviewing the Justices’ decision in consultation with counsel and giving it the careful consideration required of a Supreme Court ruling. That said, we see nothing in the MacDonald decision that would suggest that it applies to legislation like AB 1934.
Justice Alito on page 40 of his decision reiterates the court’s reassurances in Heller that this decision should not be interpreted as overturning firearm regulations passed by the states and municipalities:
“We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,’ ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’… We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.”
Responsible Citizens of California is helping to lead the fight against AB 1934, and press secretary Yih-Chau Chang posted several celebratory blog items on the group’s website today.
“To Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, I would highly recommend that you withdraw the California anti-Open Carry bill, AB 1934, before you are further embarrassed when it fails in the State Senate or is found to be unconstitutional in a court of law,” he wrote. “This dog-and-pony show you dragged out into the public eye to parade in front of your liberal base just before your Assembly career ends was nothing more than a bid for votes to try and start your CA State Senate career. You had better wise up and withdraw AB 1934 while you can still save some political face.”
The Assembly passed Saldana’s bill earlier this month on a 46-30, party-line vote, and the state Senate Public Safety Committee approved it last week 4-3; it goes next to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, and then to the state Senate floor. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he’ll sign it if it reaches his desk.