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Supreme Court ruling puts target on California gun laws, including San Francisco restrictions

A person wears an NRA hat in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2022. | Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of its most significant gun law rulings in more than a decade, tossing out New York state’s tight restrictions on who can carry a concealed gun in public.

Gun rights activists are celebrating the 6-3 decision, while advocates for stricter gun laws decry it. Both agree that California’s similar law may be next to be challenged.

The ruling likely marks the most dramatic expansion of gun rights in the United States since 2008, when the Supreme Court clarified for the first time that the Second Amendment’s right “to keep and bear” firearms applies to individual citizens, not just state militia members. But that ruling only affirmed the right for “self-defense within the home,” leaving states with wide discretion over whether and how to restrict guns elsewhere.

This ruling brings that constitutional right outside the home.

“This ruling is a disaster for public safety,” California Sen. Scott Weiner said in an interview with The San Francisco Standard. 

“California has the strongest gun safety laws in the country,” Weiner continued. “We have a law against concealed carry. Obviously someone will challenge that. So I’m sure we’ll be looking at the Supreme Court decision to determine what, if anything, we can do to tighten up our laws and not have the Wild West.” 

In San Francisco, licenses to carry concealed weapons are granted on a discretionary basis by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office. The application process is rigorous and requires proof of residency or employment within the City and County of San Francisco, a background check through the Department of Justice, firearm safety training, and psychological testing. 

According to Tara Moriarty, the Director of Communications for the Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Miyamoto has not issued a single concealed-carry permit since taking office in January of 2020. 

Since today’s ruling, the office has received over two dozen requests for concealed carry permits, which Moriarty calls “highly unusual.” 

“We understand the need to strike a balance between constitutional rights and public safety, but more guns in the community does not mean the community is more safe,” Moriarty stated in an email interview. “California commonsense gun laws have helped to support our ability to limit concealed carry permits to people who may safely possess firearms.”

The court’s ruling doesn’t immediately invalidate restrictive concealed carry policies like those in San Francisco. But it does make legal challenges against California’s entire discretionary system much more likely to succeed.

This story was written in partnership with CalMatters. Read more here.

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