By Matt Levin, CALmatters
It would be far easier to bring a loaded gun into a California restaurant, movie theater or amusement park under federal legislation picking up speed in Congress and backed by the Trump administration.
Despite nearly a year of protests from prominent California Democrats that the bill would undermine the state’s stringent gun control laws, House Republicans on Wednesday passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act on a near party line vote. Among California’s representatives, all the Republicans voted yes and all the Democrats voted no except Julia Brownley of Ventura County, who nonetheless expressed opposition to the bill while dealing with wildfires in her district.
Long a top priority of the National Rifle Association and gun rights advocates across the country, concealed-carry reciprocity treats permits to carry a concealed firearm in public places like a driver’s license — a permit obtained in one state would have to be honored by another, no matter how easy it is to obtain a permit in a state like Nevada compared to how hard it is in California.
And crucially, the bill now on its way to the U.S. Senate would enable Californians to apply for permits from other states such as Florida and Utah with looser requirements—states that don’t require applicants to be residents of that state, and allow the entire application process to happen online.
“I would venture to guess that you will see millions of applications out of the greater Bay Area and Los Angeles metroplex to states like Florida and Nevada,” said Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, a gun rights advocacy group based in Sacramento. “That would not be a guess, that would be an expectation.”
Under current California law, it is incredibly difficult to obtain a license to carry a hidden gun in a public place. Californians have to convince local law enforcement that they have good reason to pack a weapon, such as a specific and credible threat of personal danger. An applicant also has to demonstrate “good moral character,” which law enforcement has lots of leeway to determine. While rural sheriff departments are more amenable, law enforcement in California’s more populated regions typically do not grant many permits.
It’s a very different story in other parts of the country. Twelve states—including neighboring Arizona—allow concealed carry without requiring gun owners to obtain any special permit. Under the recently…