California Has Found the One Thing Foreigners May Not Do . . .

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh reports on a new California law:

Live With a Foreigner Who Doesn’t Have a Green Card? You Must Keep Your Guns Locked Up

That’s what the newly enacted Cal. Penal Code § 25135, just signed by Gov. Brown, would do (on pain of criminal punishment):

A person who is 18 years of age or older, and who is the owner, lessee, renter, or other legal occupant of a residence, who owns a firearm and who knows or has reason to know that another person also residing therein is prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm shall not keep in that residence any firearm that he or she owns unless one of the following applies:
(1) The firearm is maintained within a locked container.
(2) The firearm is disabled by a firearm safety device.
(3) The firearm is maintained within a locked gun safe.
(4) The firearm is maintained within a locked trunk.
(5) The firearm is locked with a locking device as described in Section 16860, which has rendered the firearm inoperable.
(6) The firearm is carried on the person or within close enough proximity thereto that the individual can readily retrieve and use the firearm as if carried on the person.

Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(5)(B), (g)(5)(B), provides that foreigners who are lawfully here under a nonimmigrant visa — which can include foreign college or graduate students, people who are lawfully working for a business but don’t have an unrestricted green card, and more — are generally barred from possessing, receiving, owning, or buying a firearm. So if someone living in your residence, whether as a housemate, a lover, or what have you, is a foreigner, you must keep your guns locked up, even if the foreigner is a perfectly responsible adult.

I agree with Volokh’s criticisms of this law, which you can read here. But I’m more struck by something else. In California, foreigners are basically denied nothing. Forget those who have normal visas instead of green cards, even if you are a self-professed illegal immigrant you can get a driver’s license, become a lawyer, take government assistance, and so on and so forth. And now we are to accept that the state of California, which has for years done its level best to eradicate the distinction between citizen and foreigner, is electing not only to enforce this federal law to its strictest letter but to violate the rights of actual citizens and permanent residents in the process. Are you kidding me? I have no issue with the federal government reserving gun ownership to citizens and permanent residents. I just think that it’s very obvious that the state of California has looked at the significant number of people who live with someone who isn’t a citizen or green-card holder and decided that this is a rather clever way of discouraging people from owning or using a firearm.