After the Supreme Court’s landmark Second Amendment ruling in June, California’s attorney general encouraged law enforcement officials in the state to deny firearm carry permits to individuals with a history of “hatred and racism”—whether expressed in social media posts or elsewhere.
The problem is that in these politically polarized times, defining hatred and racism is problematic, leading to definitions that disfavor the beliefs of conservatives and others who don’t toe the “woke” or politically correct line, critics say. Allowing these concepts to be used in the gun-permitting process is a recipe for abuse and could lead to violations of gun-permit applicants’ Second and First Amendment rights, they say.
On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, that New York state’s tough concealed carry gun permitting system was unconstitutional because it only granted public-carry licenses “when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense.”
The day after the Bruen ruling, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, sent a “legal alert” (pdf) to law enforcement officials, advising them that the state was dropping the requirement for gun license applicants to provide a “good cause” because the requirement is now “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
But “the requirement that a public-carry license applicant provide proof of ‘good moral character’ remains constitutional” and should continue to be enforced.
A “good moral character” investigation “requires an independent determination,” Bonta wrote.