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Federal Court Challenges California’s Open Carry Handgun Ban



The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has questioned California's open carry handgun laws, sending the case back for reassessment. (Shutterstock)
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California’s prohibition on the open carry of handguns without a license is under increased legal scrutiny following a federal appellate court ruling.

A conservative three-judge panel from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that a lower court had overstepped its authority by refusing to suspend enforcement of the laws while their constitutionality is being questioned. The case has been sent back to the lower court for further analysis.

The 9th Circuit court did not rule that enforcement should be stopped but provided guidance on how the lower court should conduct the reevaluation. Legal experts suggest this could make it more challenging for California to prove its laws are constitutional.

Penalties for Unlicensed Open Carry Remain

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Mark Baird and Richard Gallardo, expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision and anticipate a quick reassessment by the district court. The state Attorney General’s office, which is defending California’s laws, stated it is reviewing the decision and will respond accordingly. Officials there also emphasized that penalties for unlicensed open carry of firearms are still in effect.

This case is one of many contesting California’s gun laws. These challenges have gained momentum after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that restrictions on firearms infringe on the 2nd Amendment if they are not deeply rooted in the country’s history or comparable to some historical rule. This principle, known as the “Bruen test,” has significantly changed the way gun regulations are examined when individuals challenge them as unconstitutional.

California typically prohibits residents of counties with over 200,000 inhabitants from openly carrying handguns, with some exceptions. In smaller jurisdictions, residents can apply for open-carry licenses, although these are hard to obtain.

Baird and Gallardo initially filed a lawsuit against these laws over four years ago, arguing they infringe on their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense.

Read more at Los Angeles Times.

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