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Supreme Court case could increase number of Californians allowed to carry guns in public

The case is centered on who can carry a concealed weapon in New York, but its outcome could be a game-changer for California's gun laws.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on gun restrictions in New York could impact how many Californians are allowed to carry firearms in public.  

This case challenges a New York state law that now requires applicants for a concealed carry weapon permit to show they have a "special need" for it. 

While gun owners say this violates the Second Amendment right to self-defense, opponents counter this will lead to more guns on the streets and more violence. 

Along with New York, California and a handful of other states currently have similar restrictions in obtaining a concealed carry permit or CCW.

That could change, though, depending on the outcome of a case now before the nation's highest court.

"It is very subjective: it is left up to a bureaucrat or an elected official and it varies wildly," said Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners PAC

He said that these restrictions violate the Second Amendment right to self-defense.

"We think that if you are sane, trained, law-abiding, if you go through the steps to take the class, pay the fee, fill out the application, then you should be able to get a permit in order to carry a gun outside of the home so that you can defend your life," Schwartz told News 8. 

Opponents are concerned that if the Supreme Court strikes down this New York law, state restrictions here could also be nullified through the courts.

"Then absolutely you are going to see more people applying. There will be far less restrictions, it will be far easier to get it, and there will be a lot more people walking around with concealed weapons," said Ron Marcus, president of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention.

He is concerned that more concealed weapons in public will lead to more violence, especially in mass settings.

"The more people who have guns in a concentrated space, the higher the probability that there will be some injuries, if not even deaths potentially," Marcus added. 

"It's the exact opposite," countered Schwartz, who pointed out that in the Supreme Court hearing earlier this month, San Diego was cited by the plaintiffs' attorney as a city where a less-restrictive policy of issuing CCW's is working, when Justice Elena Kagan questioned whether these permits lead to greater violence.

 "I mean, most people think that Chicago is the world's worst city with respect to gun violence," Kagan said.

"Nobody thinks that about Phoenix, nobody thinks that about Houston, nobody thinks that about Dallas, and nobody thinks that about San Diego, which even though it is in a restricted state, it is a shall-issue jurisdiction," plaintiffs' attorney Paul Clement responded.

In San Diego, a total of about 1,100 CCWs were issued in 2017, according to the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC. As of 2021, that number is more than 5,600.

Those applicants were required to demonstrate they have "good cause" for carrying a weapon in public, and the San Diego County Sheriff's department approved it.

"San Diego has become the poster child for how CCWs are safe and effective and successful," Schwartz said. 

But Marcus countered that it is still too early to tell.

"Especially since we have been cooped up in our homes with COVID, I  don't think we can say yet with any certainty one way or the other what that has done to the incidence of gun violence in general," Marcus told News 8. 

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on this case by next summer. 

To listen to the full Supreme Court hearing, click here