In the wake of a recent ruling by a Federal Judge that heavily favored freedom and the 2nd Amendment, we asked Kostas Moros for an interview. Kostas Moros is one of several attorneys that represent the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA). He participated, along with other attorneys, to achieve a preliminary injunction on California’s SB2. SB2 was to become law on January 1, 2024. It makes virtually the entire state of California a so-called “sensitive place” and off-limits to lawful concealed carry of firearms.
News2A: First of all congratulations to you, the California Rifle & Pistol Association and your partners on your victory in Reno May et al. v. Bonta. How has working with so many other pro-2A groups been beneficial in approaching these cases?
KM: Thanks so much, we were pleased with the ruling.
The advantage of working with so many other groups is being able to draw from their vast pool of knowledge. I wrote the first drafts of the pleadings and motion in this case, but those first drafts were far better after we had input from brilliant people like Don Kilmer and Adam Kraut who work with the Second Amendment Foundation, and Rob Olson who works with Gun Owners of America. Not to mention my brilliant colleagues at Michel & Associates, who typically represent CRPA.
News2A: The California law (SB2) seems eerily similar to the New Jersey “carry killer” bill signed just about one year ago. Is this copycat tactic by the State for the sake of simplicity, or is there a more nefarious strategy here?
KM: I think every Bruen-tantrum state more or less copied what New York first did, with some slight differences in each law. It’s nefarious in that the intent is to undermine Bruen, but it’s not complex. They liked New York’s idea, including the vampire rule, and copied it.
News2A: What was one of the more surprising arguments put up by the State during oral arguments?
KM: It was pretty extraordinary that the State argued yesterday that the right to carry could be contained to streets and sidewalks. While that is the effect of SB2, we thought they’d try to sugarcoat or obfuscate. They didn’t – they were open that they basically want carry forbidden at every public place.
News2A: Judge Carney cited the Koons v. Platkin case in his decision. How does the referencing of these related cases help build precedent in favor of your clients?
KM: It’s always nice to be able to show a judge that if they rule for us, they’ll be following a long line of other judges who felt the same, and not out on a limb on their own. The Koons ruling was very thorough and well-reasoned, which is why Judge Carney cited it a lot.
News2A: Many of these Bruen-response bills seem to generate a near-identical response from the court system: a preliminary injunction issued at the district level, followed by a reversal at the appeals court level. Any insight into why the appeals courts are seeing things so differently?
KM: Yes, that has been deeply frustrating to watch. That said, there are finally some cracks forming. While the Second Circuit ruling earlier this month was mostly terrible, even that hostile panel struck down the vampire rule. Similarly, I felt the Koons oral argument in the Third Circuit went pretty well, and I think you guys may get a slightly better ruling than what the Second Circuit arrived at.
Hawaii’s Bruen-tantrum law has been enjoined since August. Hawaii asked the Ninth Circuit to stay it, but the circuit court responded that Hawaii would need to ask the District Court first. The District Court never acted on the motion to stay, and Hawaii somewhat strangely never went back to the Ninth Circuit. That will be an argument we make in opposing a stay request by California – Hawaii’s law has been enjoined this whole time, and no harm has resulted.
News2A: The Fresno County Sheriff’s office seems to be following the case and has weighed in on Twitter with a couple of statements. Do you or your team have any perspective into how local law enforcement across the state views the carry restrictions the State is trying to push?
KM: Most law enforcement is on our side. They know people with CCW permits almost never commit crimes. In fact, we got a declaration from the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the largest law enforcement organization in the State, in our support. The Judge seemed to appreciate that, citing it frequently.
News2A: No one can tell the future, but what are some of the likely outcomes in the next steps of this case?
KM: California will likely try to have our preliminary injunction stayed pending appeal. How that goes unfortunately depends a lot on which judges are randomly assigned to the motions panel this month (or next) in the Ninth Circuit. Maybe we’ll keep the whole injunction. Maybe none of it. Or maybe they’ll go a la carte and let us keep some parts but not others.
News2A: CRPA and their partners have been hugely successful in litigating against these anti-Second Amendment laws. What’s the message(s) you’d like to get to our audience about supporting these groups?
KM: CRPA does an incredible amount with a very limited budget. Unlike the big gun control groups, there is no billionaire financier like Michael Bloomberg on our side backing us. I hate to ask for money, but there is no denying its importance as we are faced with a hostile state government with effectively limitless taxpayer dollars. Donate what you can. If you can’t donate, then do your best to stay informed and talk to friends and neighbors about taking these things into account when they vote.