FPC Launches Lawsuit Taking on California’s Ban on Non-Resident Carry – Bearing Arms

FPC Launches Lawsuit Taking on California’s Ban on Non-Resident Carry – Bearing Arms

The California Rifle & Pistol Association is already going after California’s complete and utter prohibition on non-residents bearing arms in self-defense as part of its lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies, but the Firearms Policy Coalition is launching a direct attack on that egregious infringement of our Second Amendment rights with a federal lawsuit of its own. 

The facts in Hoffman v. Bonta are pretty simple. There is no way for non-residents to lawfully carry a firearm for self-defense in the state of California. You must be a resident in order to obtain a California carry permit, and the state doesn’t recognize the validity of any permit or licensed issued by the other 49 states. Your Second Amendment rights stop at the state line, and as FPC argues in its initial complaint, that’s plainly unconstitutional.

Individuals like Plaintiffs do not lose protection of their rights under the First Amendment’s speech or religion clauses when they cross state lines. Nor do they lose their protections under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. They likewise do not surrender their Second Amendment protected rights when they travel outside their home state. Cf. Bruen, 597 U.S. at 24 (standard adopted in Bruen “accords with howwe protect other constitutional rights”), id. at 70 (observing that “[w]e know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need” and contrasting operation of First Amendment and Sixth Amendment). California’s prohibition on non-resident carry violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as Article IV of the same. This Court should enter a judgment that declares California’s non-resident carry ban unconstitutional and enjoins Defendant (and all those under Defendant’s supervision, including sheriffs) from enforcing the residency requirement for carry applications with respect to otherwise qualified individuals whoare not California residents.

It’s worth noting that FPC and the individual plaintiffs are not seeing recognition of their out-of-state permits, at least not at the moment. Instead, they’re demanding that non-residents be allowed to apply for a California carry license, which are issued by local police chiefs and county sheriffs. 

That might be an easier legal argument to make than asserting that a Florida carry permit should be just as valid in California as a Florida driver’s license is, but from a practical perspective it would likely still be extraordinarily difficult for non-residents to receive a carry license. As a Virginian, for example, I’d have to find a firearms instructor here in the Commonwealth who’s been certified to teach the California carry course, and many jurisdictions in the state require in-person visits to either drop off applications or to be quizzed by licensing officials before an application is approved. 

Since I live 3,000 miles away, showing up at a sheriff’s office to drop off my application would be an incredible burden, while finding a local firearms instructor who is CalDOJ-approved would be difficult, if not impossible, for me to manage.

Still, the fight for our Second Amendment rights is largely an incremental one, especially in the court system, and removing California’s prohibition on non-resident carry would open the door to follow-up lawsuits from other potential plaintiffs who are unable to satisfy California’s draconian and extreme requirements for applicants because they live too far away. FPC’s request for relief also differs from that in CRPA v. LASD, which does seek to compel California to recognize out-of-state permits, so the two lawsuits offer a complementary approach to undoing the state’s prohibition on non-residents bearing arms for self-defense. 

In fact, FPC’s complaint, which was filed after California AG Rob Bonta submitted a brief opposing the CRPA lawsuit, seems like it was written to box Bonta in a corner. In his response to the CRPA lawsuit, Bonta contends that there’s a longstanding tradition of states and localities limiting carry solely to residents, and objects to CRPA’s request that the federal courts force the state to recognize out-of-state permits. But the vast majority of the laws he cites in support of his position were adopted in the early 1900s, long after the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 and the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. Many of those laws were also specifically directed against carrying concealed firearms while allowing open carry, which is not an option for folks visiting California today. 

The two-pronged approach to undoing California’s ban on non-resident carry leaves Bonta arguing that the Second Amendment, unlike all of our enumerated rights, can be violated at will when it comes to out-of-state visitors. That puts the Second Amendment in second-class status, which the Supreme Court has already said is unacceptable, and it should be wholeheartedly rejected by the judges who’ll hear both CRPA v. LASD and Hoffman v. Bonta

Originally Posted on: https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2024/04/14/fpc-launches-lawsuit-taking-on-californias-ban-on-non-resident-carry-n1224505
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