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California Democrats aim to protect gun control measures from challenges


AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Bing Guan

California Democrats on Wednesday vowed to enact new legislation aimed at protecting state restrictions on carrying concealed weapons from conservative legal challenges, days after two mass shootings left 18 people dead in the most-populous U.S. state.

The proposed legislation would raise the age at which a gun owner can apply for a concealed-carry permit, increase the training requirement for obtaining a permit and ban the use of alcohol while carrying a concealed weapon. It also would carve out sensitive zones in airports and around schools where concealed weapons would not be allowed.

“There are far too many gun violence tragedies in America, leading us to the point of almost becoming numb,” said state Senator Anthony Portantino, a Democrat.

The bill was introduced in the Democratic-controlled state legislature in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year that overturned New York’s concealed-carry permitting process and widened gun rights.

To comply with that ruling, the California proposal would remove a state requirement that applicants for a concealed-carry permit show why they need one, and would give private property owners the ability to allow concealed weapons in some cases in which they might otherwise be banned.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, said the bill was crafted to comply with the Supreme Court decision and survive legal challenges. Many gun regulations have been challenged at the state and federal level by firearms owners and gun-rights advocates.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, acknowledged that the proposal would not have prevented either of the two mass shootings last month in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, and said it was not introduced in response to those incidents.

But Newsom said that taken together with other gun control laws, the legislation would be part of a pattern of regulation that had led California to have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the United States. A similar proposal failed in the legislature last year, but Newsom said he was confident the new version would be approved in the current session.