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Santa Monica Gun Laws Unaffected by Court Ruling


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By Jorge Casuso

January 2, 2024 -- Santa Monica's new gun ordinance can still be enforced after a U.S. District judge last month blocked a new California law restricting where firearms can be carried, City officials said.

In a closely watched case, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney issued a preliminary injunction on December 20 blocking SB 2, which bars concealed carry permit holders from carrying firearms in most public places.

Among the 26 "sensitive" places covered by the law are "hospitals, public transportation, bars and nightclubs, playgrounds, parks, casinos, stadiums, libraries, amusement parks, zoos, places of worship and banks," according to Courthouse News Service.

In his ruling Carney wrote, "Simply put, CCW permit holders are not the gun wielders legislators should fear.

"Indeed, CCW permit holders are not responsible for any of the mass shootings or horrific gun violence that has occurred in California."

The ruling -- which the California Attorney General is appealing -- was issued four months after the Santa Monica City Council imposed additional regulations for gun retailers and owners ("City Council Cracks Down on Knives and Guns," August 28, 2023).

Santa Monica's "cutting-edge" gun law -- approved unanimously -- places restrictions on firearm sales and ownership, and "prohibits possessing a firearm on City property and in certain areas," City officials said.

These areas include most City-owned or leased buildings, the Pier, public parks, the beach, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and places of worship.

Other areas include sporting events, concerts, shows, farmers markets, and other community events, places where First Amendment protected speech is being conducted, hospitals and clinics.

City officials said the District Court ruling does not affect the new local laws, including "weapons restrictions on City property and other areas."

"At this time, this injunction bears no change to Santa Monica's public safety ordinances approved earlier this year," said Tati Simonian, the City's Public Information Officer.

"The city attorney's office is aware of the preliminary injunction challenging California Senate Bill 2 and is following it closely," Simoniann said.

Hours after the District Court's decision, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the State would file an appeal.

“If allowed to stand, this decision would endanger communities by allowing guns in places where families and children gather,” Bonta said in a statement.

“Guns in sensitive public places do not make our communities safer, but rather the opposite. More guns in more sensitive places makes the public less safe; the data supports it."

Bonta did not specify if the data he refers to apply to concealed carry permit holders.

In March, the City Council approved a $617 fee for a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license after the LA County Sheriff's Department (LASD), which charged $150, stopped processing them for the city ("Council Sets Fees for Concealed Carry Weapon Licenses," March 15, 2023).

The Council's decision came after a June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found New York's law requiring a "proper cause" to carry a concealed weapon violates the 14th Amendment.

The ruling -- which rendered a similar California law unconstitutional -- spurred an influx of CCW permit applications, prompting LASD to stop processing them for independent municipalities within its jurisdiction.

Shortly after the Council's unanimous vote, the California Rifle & Pistol Association called Santa Monica's fee "ridiculous" ("City Could Face Lawsuit Over New Gun Licensing Fee," March 20, 2023).

"By charging such outlandish fees, the City is punishing the very people who are law-abiding and respectful of the process," said Konstadinos T. Moros, an attorney representing the association.

"You are encouraging them to give up and, if they still must carry for their own safety, to do so illegally."

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