In a groundbreaking move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just handed down a decision that could significantly affect firearm rights in the state of California, and by extension, in Burbank. The case, Baird vs. Bonta, challenged California’s current restrictions on the unlicensed open carry of handguns. The court ruled that the district court had not applied the correct legal standards in denying a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of these restrictions.
California has been notorious for its strict firearm control laws. Currently, the state has a de facto ban on the open carry of handguns for residents in counties with a population of over 200,000. Considering that roughly 95% of California residents live in such counties, this effectively means that the vast majority of Californians cannot apply for an open-carry license. For the residents of Burbank, a city within Los Angeles County, this has meant that open carry has been off-limits.
The Court’s Decision
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the lower court had erred in its decision by not considering whether the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim. The court emphasized that any regulation on the right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home must be closely related to laws that were in effect when the Second Amendment was ratified. The panel of judges reversed the lower court’s denial of the preliminary injunction and sent the case back for further proceedings, instructing the district court to complete its review expeditiously.
Implications for Burbank Residents
If the district court follows the Ninth Circuit’s guidance and eventually rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it could mean that the long-standing ban on open carry in places like Burbank may be lifted. This could give law-abiding citizens the option to openly carry a handgun for self-defense, a freedom that has been largely unavailable under current laws.
For Burbank residents who are strong advocates of the Second Amendment, this is a significant win. It means that the government would need to reconsider its current restrictions and possibly align them more closely with the original intent of the Second Amendment. For those concerned about public safety, it is worth noting that the court has not yet ruled on the ultimate merits of the case—only that the issue deserves a more thorough legal examination.
Legislation and Legal Battles
In July 2022, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 1327 into law, aiming to shift legal fees in favor of the government in firearm-related legal challenges. However, this was struck down by a United States District Court judge later that year. Despite the ruling, the City of Burbank seemed to continue a path against firearms, implementing various ordinances restricting firearm and ammunition sales.
Concealed Carry Denial Stats
According to public records as of February 16, 2023, Burbank approved 28 concealed carry applications but denied 14. Notably, nearly one in five of all applications were denied based on the applicant lacking “good moral character,” a subjective criterion. This accounts for 57% of all denials. Critics argue that this is a misuse of the requirement and that the decision-making may be influenced by political pressure from various local entities. Police Chief Michael Albanese is the sole arbiter of these applications and makes the final decision to approve or deny them. Critics further argue that the 28 approvals against 14 denials are clear evidence that Burbank infringes on the Second Amendment. This is further supported by the firearm buyback events organized by the Burbank Police Department.
Redundancies and Privacy Concerns
Burbank’s policies also include a rigorous background check for acquiring a firearm, often duplicating existing state requirements. Moreover, the city warns applicants that their information may become public record, which many see as an infringement on an individual’s right to privacy while exercising their Second Amendment rights.
What Lies Ahead
The city is now under scrutiny for these practices, which could lead to legal challenges and a shift in Burbank’s approach to firearm rights and regulations. With a clear divide between government policies and public opinion on Second Amendment rights, the situation is set to evolve as more people voice their concerns and seek judicial review.
What is Next?
The case of Baird vs. Bonta has been remanded back to the district court for further proceedings. Given the Ninth Circuit’s strong guidance, it seems likely that the lower court will need to seriously consider whether California’s open-carry ban can stand up to constitutional scrutiny.
While it may take some time for a final decision to be rendered, the ruling has already ignited conversations among Burbank residents about the extent of Second Amendment rights. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, the court’s decision is poised to have a substantial impact on the firearm rights debate in California and could set a precedent for other states to follow.
For now, all eyes are on the district court as both Second Amendment supporters and firearm control advocates await the next chapter in this landmark case.