Thursday, April 13, 2017
OFF THE WIRE
Californians may soon regain their Second Amendment right to carry a gun. The laws and their administration and interpretations have virtually disarmed law abiding citizens of the nation’s most populous state. This month all that is under stack on two front – a case before the Supreme Court and a bill introduced into the California Assembly last week.
Since 2012, California law has forbidden residents from openly carrying even unloaded firearms in a public place. Concealed carry permits are issued at the discretion of county sheriff’s and are routinely denied.
California is one of nine so-called “may-issue” states along with Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. In may-issue states local police may issue a concealed firearms carry licenses if they feel like it and if the applicant shows “good cause” for wanting to carry a gun.
In the 29 “shall-issue” states, the law stipulates that police shall issue a concealed carry permit provided the applicant is a resident of a stipulated age who passes a background check and pays a fee. Some states require concealed carry permit holders to be fingerprinted, and complete a class or demonstrate proficiency with a gun. Citizens of those states do not have to show good cause for wanting to carry a gun that “distinguishes” them, to use the wording of California law, “from the mainstream and places the applicant in harm’s way.”
Twelve states lightly regulate or do not regulate the open or concealed carrying of firearms at all. For example, Montana forbids carrying your concealed gun into town. Vermont, on the other hand does not.
Generally, shall-issue states allow a non-resident to carry a concealed firearm if he has a concealed carry permit from another shall-issue state.
About 70,000 people have concealed carry permits in California. The state has a population, not counting undocumented immigrants, of about 39 million. About half of those permits were issued in seven of the Golden State’s 58 counties. And of course, concealed carry permit holders visiting from other states are forbidden to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in California.
The California gun ban was tested in federal court in 2014 in a case titled Peruta v. San Diego. Peruta thought the bans on both open and concealed carry violated the Second Amendment which guarantees the right “to keep and bear arms.” A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that every citizen has a right to carry a weapon. But the case was then reconsidered by the entire appeals court which ruled last June that “there is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”
The Supreme Court agreed last September to hear an appeal of the Peruta ruling and to date 26 states have filed friends of the court briefs on behalf of the people’s right to be armed. The most recent, yesterday, was Kentucky whose governor, Matt Bevin, said in a press release: “As states and individuals, we must stand united against arbitrary government overreach and this unconstitutional attack on the Second Amendment. In America, our freedom and liberty have been purchased at a great price. We must do everything in our power to preserve them for the generations yet to come.”
Last week, a California Assemblywoman named Melissa Melendez introduced Assembly Bill 757 which would change California to a shall-issue state. “It is our Constitutional right to defend ourselves,” Melendez said in her press release. “Californians should not be subjugated to the personal beliefs of one individual who doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment. If a citizen passes the background check and completes the necessary safety training requirements, there should be no reason to deny them a CCW.”
“Equal protection under the law applies to more than just illegal immigrants and liberal college students,” Melendez said. “The Constitution enumerates the right to own a gun; it is not a privilege only to be granted to a select few.”
“Our current system of issuing concealed carry permits is not equal. It comes down to being lucky enough to live in a county where the Sheriff believes in upholding the Second Amendment.”