California should stop defying SCOTUS

[Ed: This was first published in The Orange County Register January 25.]

The new year saw the customary barrage of new California gun control laws. The most appalling is Sen. Anthony Portantino’s Senate Bill 2, a rebellious reaction to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling NYSRPA v. Bruen. SB 2 has nothing to do with criminals. Rather, it selectively targets only one group—holders of a license to carry a concealed firearm for self protection (CCW).

SB 2 is one of a flurry of statutes rushed into law by California and a few other states whose purpose is to openly defy Bruen, which confirms that the “and bear” arms part of the Second Amendment means what it says. Already, these Bruen tantrum laws are being struck down in federal court appeals. SB 2 is now partially enjoined pending appeal. But the purpose of these laws is clear — first, to make California an even more dangerous legal minefield for gun owners and second, to signal defiance of the Supreme Court.

It’s not like there’s been a sudden violent crime wave among California CCW holders. Carry license holders in all states have been documented for decades to actually have a lower crime rate than the general population. In fact, a majority of states don’t even bother anymore requiring a license for law-abiding citizens. Only six states and D.C. still cling to their old licensing systems that consider the right to carry a privilege to carry—often a privilege contingent on being a VIP or contributing money to the political campaign of the right official.

The rebellion of a few lower courts and legislatures against the Supreme Court’s gun rights rulings has dragged on ever since its 2008 D.C. v Heller and 2010 McDonald v Chicago decisions, which struck down bans on handgun possession. Since then the courts in California and other anti-gun rights states have used a fabricated scheme subjecting any new gun control law to a “balancing test.”  Thus the Second Amendment becomes “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed unless the government thinks it’s really, really important to infringe it.”

For sixteen years now lower courts have played this game of subverting the Supreme Court. The game goes like this—the legislature passes a new, obscure gun law that creates a whole new class of criminals out of people who weren’t criminals before. Then gun rights groups challenge the law in court, and eventually get it overturned. That takes several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs. Then the legislature passes a new raft of gun control laws, like the five that just went into effect New Year’s Day. More years pass while they are challenged in court and found unconstitutional. Rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, several million Californians are put in legal peril as status criminals. Where does it end?

It’s obvious by now that California state officials have no intention of respecting our nation’s highest court. They must be compelled, at long last, to honor the civil right that is the second one listed in our Bill of Rights. And yes, there is precedent.

In 1957, another Democrat governor who openly defied another Supreme Court civil rights decision was compelled by President Eisenhower to allow Black students to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School.  So next year, President Donald Trump should deliver an ultimatum to those rogue states who continue to scoff at the Supreme Court’s Bruen, Heller, and McDonald decisions, including California. Sixteen years of rebellion against the Supreme Court is enough.



Dr. Tim Wheeler

— Timothy Wheeler, MD is the founder and former director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, and a retired head and neck surgeon.

All DRGO articles by Timothy Wheeler, MD