A U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating New Yorkers no longer need to show an actual need to carry a concealed handgun could impact whether California sheriffs who issue concealed weapons permits have discretion to deny someone who otherwise is eligible.
Under California law, a concealed carry permit can be issued if the applicant is of “good moral character,” has good cause for seeking the permit, meets residency requirements and completes an acceptable firearms training course.
With the court’s ruling, the “good cause” requirement is now “likely unconstitutional,” state Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a news release. But he noted other requirements, including passing a background check, remain intact.
“States still have the right to limit concealed carry permits to those who may safely possess firearms,” Bonta said. “Our office has been watching this issue closely. We are working with the Governor and the legislature to advance legislation that is both constitutional and will maintain safety for Californians.”
Kern County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said current law says a sheriff “may issue” a concealed weapons permit. There is no mandatory statutory requirement compelling sheriffs to issue permits.
The most obvious legislative change would be to change the wording to “shall issue,” Kinzel said.
“It doesn’t have a direct impact as if something today has changed,” Kinzel said of the ruling, “but it comes down to whether the sheriffs of the different counties that issue concealed weapons permits have that discretion anymore.”
Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit remains a crime, something not likely to change, Kinzel said.
The ruling does not impact current criminal cases, he said.
It also doesn’t change California’s laws prohibiting the open carry of firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, and the prohibition of owning or possessing firearms or ammunition by those convicted of a felony.
“You can ban open carry if you have an avenue for concealed carry,” Kinzel said. “I don’t think it will [affect] the open carry provisions.”