California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other high-ranking Democrats on Wednesday revived a plan to strengthen the state’s concealed carry gun law.

The move marks the second attempt at shoring up California regulations after a June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down key provisions of the state’s law.

Newsom, standing alongside Attorney General Rob Bonta, Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, and other Democratic leaders and gun control advocates, said the state’s recent mass shootings pushed him to continue fighting to make California a leader in gun control.

“We’re saving lives, but we have more work to do on this effort,” Newsom said.

The latest push to rewrite the state law follows a deadly wave of gun violence in both urban and rural parts of the state, including Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, Goshen, Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles. In the most recent shooting, three people were killed inside a car and four others were wounded in a shooting on Jan. 28 near Beverly Hills.

Although Newsom acknowledged that a concealed carry law wouldn’t prevent every gun death in California, he said the state was “solving for a pattern” of gun violence, including suicides, domestic violence and police killings. The governor cited a June 2022 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research that found right-to-carry laws increase firearm homicides by 13% and violent crimes committed with a gun by 29%.

Newsom juxtaposed California’s efforts with Florida legislators, who earlier this week introduced a measure to allow residents of the Sunshine State to carry guns in public without a permit as long as they are not prohibited from owning a firearm.

”That’s a reckless approach that endangers everyone and will lead to more deaths,” he said.

Senate Bill 2, which Portantino initially introduced on Dec. 5, would update the state’s concealed carry licensing process, add new age restrictions, impose strict gun storage and training mandates and limit where permit holders could carry firearms in public.

“We’re not taking someone’s Second Amendment right,” Portantino said. “We’re ensuring that the Second Amendment is properly applicable to people who weren’t getting a concealed carry permit.”

Supreme Court invalidated California’s concealed carry gun law

The U.S. Supreme Court last year in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen invalidated “may carry” laws in eight states, including California. Those laws required concealed carry applicants to demonstrate a specific need to carry a gun in public and that they would handle it responsibly. The high court affirmed a constitutional “right to carry” and ruled that laws with subjective standards for concealed weapon permits violate Second Amendment gun rights.

That same day, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Portantino announced plans to make California’s regulations as strong as the new legal precedent allowed. But on the last night of the 2022 legislative session, the bill introduced by Portantino failed to advance through the state Assembly by just two votes.

Bonta spent the final hours of that session trying to whip votes on the Assembly floor. Asked on Wednesday what happened that night, he said, “there are folks who, on another day and another time, would have voted for the bill. Just not that day and that night.”

“They’re going to have to live with the decisions they make and the impact that it has on California,” he added. But we’re confident. We’re not looking backward, we’re looking forward.”

Newsom agreed, saying with “absolute confidence and expectation, I will be signing this legislation.”

“I don’t think that. I know that,” he said.

This time around, Portantino is not pushing the bill as an urgency measure. Bills passed with an urgency clause are effective immediately upon the governor’s signature. Classifying bills this way helps fast-track them, but only if they can garner two-thirds support in both the state Assembly and Senate.

The requirement for a higher threshold of support torpedoed the bill’s passage last year, despite robust lobbying efforts from Newsom and Bonta. When asked about the new approach, Portantino said that lawmakers could still add the urgency clause later on.

“We want the ability to be nimble, so that whatever we send to Gov. Newsom is the strongest bill possible, but also the most constitutionally sound bill,” Portantino said. “So we’re not going to rush that.”

California lawmakers push for new gun control laws

Portatino’s latest attempt — Senate Bill 2 — largely mirrors the original version of the bill.

The bill would require those who want to carry firearms in public to be 21 or older and have at least 16 hours of training. Permit holders would be prohibited from carrying their guns in a wide range of settings including schools, courts, government buildings, prisons, hospitals, airports and bars.

Legal questions also loom over the bill. A district court last fall blocked portions of a New York law meant to shore up the state’s concealed carry permitting system, including character requirements and bans on guns in certain places.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January allowed the law to remain in effect while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit considers it. Bonta in January teamed up with 15 other attorneys general to file an amicus brief supporting the New York law and urging the appeals court to reverse the district court decision.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his organization is prepared to challenge any concealed carry law signed by the governor. Specifically, Paredes said the bill’s licensing provisions were subjective and unconstitutional, representing a “direct violation of the direction the Supreme Court gave.”

“I can’t help but chuckle. They cannot restrain themselves from trying to circumvent the Supreme Court’s very clear decision,” Paredes said in an interview. “… I have no doubt that we will challenge every aspect of this statute in court and that we will be successful in defeating it all.”

But Bonta emphasized SB 2 is meant to fit within the confines of that decision by regulating “sensitive places” where concealed weapons would be banned and by evaluating individuals applying for permits to carry guns in public.

“Let me be absolutely clear, this is Bruen-compliant,” Bonta said. “The Supreme Court has made clear there are two pathways where we can make progress to keep Californians safe and people safe… We are not in a regulatory straitjacket.”

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