The Issue Is: California lawmakers take aim at concealed carry laws

This week, the issue is: gun control.

Following a series of mass shootings in California, Democratic state lawmakers have reintroduced legislation to strengthen the state’s concealed carry laws. 

The bill, introduced by State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), and backed by Governor Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta, would enhance the state’s concealed carry licensing system, set a minimum age of 21 to obtain a concealed carry license, advance stronger training requirements, and identify sensitive public places where people should expect freedom from gun violence.

Bonta joined Elex Michaelson on "The Issue Is" to discuss the legislation and its Constitutionality in the wake of last year’s Bruen ruling by the Supreme Court. He also responds to critics who say Senate Bill 2 will only harm law-abiding citizens.

Following Bonta, Michaelson is joined by Democratic activist Rev. Shane Harris and former Trump advisor John McEntee for a discussion on some of the week’s big headlines, including gun control, the renewed push for police reform in the wake of the death of Tyre Nichols, and the evolving 2024 landscape, as former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley looks poised to jump into the race, challenging her former boss, President Trump.


AG BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "There is strong evidence supporting the need for this law. And there's also a new Supreme Court decision, Bruen, which requires this approach in SB2, and the US Supreme Court issued a decision last summer that changed the way the Second Amendment has been interpreted for many, many years, and it said that when you have a concealed carry weapon, regulatory law, like California has, it can focus on two things: one, it can have robust reviews of the safety of the individual seeking the concealed carry weapon permit, and it can identify sensitive sites, places where children play, where alcohol is served, where other constitutional rights are being exercised, where you can restrict the use of a concealed carry weapon. And that's exactly what we've done here…

"We believe this is a Bruen-compliant law and the data around the permitting of guns in different states shows that when you have less restrictive or right-to-carry approaches, where more guns are given to more people without some sort of robust review of the safety of the individual, then gun violence goes up. That is very important data that we are relying on to show that we need to have a thorough evaluation of the suitability, the safety, of the individual to have the concealed carry weapon. That's what we've done here…"


AG BONTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We have to follow the data and the evidence around loss of life due to gun violence. And it is clear: more guns in more places means more gun violence and more gun deaths. It's also clear that when you have unrestrictive or less restrictive CCW or permitting approaches, more people die - there is more gun violence. What is also true is that in California, where we have some of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, we also have one of the lowest firearm mortality rates. The data, the numbers, they don't lie, and that's what we have to rely on when we're making policy. One individual might think mental health is THE solution - show me your data. Prove it. Show me the evidence and also prove that that is the only component causing gun violence. We need to be ambitious enough and focused enough and committed enough to do everything that is Constitutionally compliant and permissible to save lives and save unnecessary deaths from senseless gun violence…"


HARRIS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Tyre Nichols, obviously, was killed by the five Memphis police officers, and it really has brought back up in this country a conversation that happened in 2020 when the first George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was passed. I was there in Washington, D.C. this week, and it is going to be an uphill battle, I can assure folks. I think that one of the main reasons why is because of the qualified immunity portion of the bill... For those of us who are trying to negotiate, we need to negotiate more smart on this... some folks might like me on this, but I think that we might have to look at possibly, you know, just like the First Step Act, we might have to look at getting a first step to this police reform push, and a second step, and a third step. But we got to get what we can do now…."

McENTEE'S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think the only reform we need is to raise the standards in policing. I think what we've seen is the effect of lowering the standards. I think demonizing the police makes people retire, makes people not want to join, brings less qualified people into the mix. Maybe it has to do with training. Maybe it has to do with a lot of things. But I think most conservatives think it has to do with raising the standards. And I don't think a bill is going to pass. I don't think Republicans will feel the same pressure they did in 2020. There's not the same outcry. Obviously, this was a horrible tragedy, but I don't see something like that making any headway in Washington…"


McENTEE'S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think the last 50 years we've only gotten more restrictive with guns. I don't think we've seen that help gun violence. I think this is a way to hurt law abiding citizens. I think it's part of being a free country, you have the right to defend yourself, your home, your family, horrible things might happen, but there's no actual good answer unless you want to give up the Second Amendment…."

HARRIS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think that the Attorney General and the Governor are looking at strategic ways to try to address the gut of this issue, and sometimes that means getting to the details of where things can come from or where certain corners can be bent. They're trying to cut all the corners that could be bent on this issue and try to solve a very critical issue that is waging the health and the safety of our communities across this state…"


McENTEE'S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think Nikki Haley is a self-centered politician. I think she's seen her shot, andd she's playing for VP. She knows a Trump-DeSantis war is coming, I think she's going to play it safe, I think it's a calculated move and I think she's going to let them have at it.... I think Trump's fine with any challenge. I think he knows it's going to be between him and DeSantis. I think the rest is kind of just noise. I've heard Pompeo, Pence, other people. He probably feels the more the merrier, but I don't think he thinks she's an actual threat…."

HARRIS’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think Nikki Haley is sharp. She's never lost a race. She has obviously been the Ambassador to the U.N.. She's got an impeccable record. I think that she's going to be a major war to wage in the GOP as we're anticipating an announcement from her on February 15th…."

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to