AB 357 Carry Concealed Weapon "shall issue" bill
Scott A. Schlefstein
For information on Californians with CCW permits, visit www.calccw.com. This is a great informational website with a very well versed group of ccw holders who keep up on the laws.
Here is the current law: (I inserted <del> where AB 357 would make changes)
SECTION 1. Section 12050 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
12050. (a) (1) (A) The sheriff of a county, upon proof that the
person applying is of good moral character , that good cause
exists for the issuance<deleted with AB357>, and that the person applying
satisfies any one of the conditions specified in subparagraph (D) and
has completed a course of training as described in subparagraph (E),
<del>may</del> shall issue to that person a
license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
being concealed upon the person in either one of the following
(i) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(ii) Where the population of the county is less than 200,000
persons according to the most recent federal decennial census, a
license to carry loaded and exposed in that county a pistol,
revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the
AB 357 would only change the current law, deleting "good cause" and changing "may issue" to "shall issue". Everything else would remain, such as "good moral character, background checks, etc. Currently the law is subjective and gives the sheriff or police chief very wide, huge discretion for issuance.
The way it is now in California, you have to write a novel in triplicate to beg, plead and detail the specific reasons why you want to defend yourself and your family, whereas in 40 other states, if you pass the background check, pass the classes, pay the fees and pass the interviews at the sheriff’s department, you get the permit.
The "good cause" element and wide discretion to issue by sheriffs and chiefs currently in California law, has had it’s share of problems constitutionally with the equal protection violations whereas one class of people are issued license and others are not.
Unfortunately, this broad discretion can be extreme on both ends of the spectrum. Some counties and cities are severely limited on issuance. Good cause is sometimes abused, misinterpreted, based on ideology, used for political purposes or just plain wacky. In some places, only VIP's, celebrities, reserve cops, DA's and Judges get permits while other law abiding folks are not enjoying equal protection because they’re not famous enough. Depending on the venue most regular folks are being turned away without an application process in these restrictive "non-issue, VIP only" venues.
In other places, the citizen can apply -- but if the "good cause" isn't -- good enough -- (the applicant is a diamond courier or has been maimed by a stalker several times already), then no permit is issued and usually there is no appeal process either. I’m pretty sure this is the policy in Orange County as of the last few months. See below for more on that.
Forget getting a permit in San Francisco (unless you are Diane Feinstein) , Sacramento or most Bay Area locations. Unless you are a famous movie star, or retired FBI agent, don’t bother trying to apply in Los Angeles either.
In more conservative counties (San Bernardino, Kern, Tulare, Nevada, etc.) we have good issuance and "self defense" is enough good cause in most of these places.
By the way, a permit holder in San Bernardino can drive to any other county in the state and carry his/her weapon because the license is good statewide. Just because certain counties won’t issue permits, doesn’t mean people aren’t carrying there, legally and illegally.
Orange County used to be a place where permits were liberally issued until recently when the Board of Supervisors appointed former democrat, turned "republican", retired L.A. cop, Sandra Hutchens to position of sheriff. She is making history, revoking permits for some retroactive ideologically motivated "good cause" change in policy she's initiated out of thin air.
The problem with revoking permits is that revocation goes on someone's criminal record. PC 12050 also doesn't indicate that a revocation can happen without cause -- say an arrest or criminal conviction. Hutchens is using an unpublished 1977 letter of an opinion from a California Attorney General (which holds no legal standing), as an excuse to revoke permits. When the Orange County Board of Supervisors called her on the issue of revoking without cause, she contacted DOJ to urge them to change their database for her personal jihad on ccw revocations. This was so she can revoke and have it indicated in the state criminal database, "revoked for not meeting good cause threshold" instead of just revoked. Hutchens figured that was a good way to solve the problem. That’s not how democracies work though. Maybe that flies in a dictatorship, or police state, but not in the USA.
In a constitutional republic, the law is written by legislators, signed into law by an executive and challenged in the judicial branch. A government bureaucracy can’t just change how they view a law to fit their ideology or help another bureaucrat with creative legal interpretations. Ultimately, this is the problem with the current law and why AB 357 is needed.
Another problem with Sandra Hutchen’s revocation jihad was that there are people with security clearances in their jobs who also hold CCW permits. If something…anything is entered on that person’s criminal record, they could lose their clearance and their job. Whoops. She didn’t think of that, or doesn’t care. Maybe that’s why you don’t revoke a license without real cause? Maybe that’s why the DMV doesn’t revoke your driver’s license without cause? How about a medical license? Could the Medical Board just revoke a license because one day they decide a doctor’s reason for having the license wasn’t good enough to meet some new retroactive policy?
A class action suit is gearing up against Hutchens. She's been involved in several scandals, such as using security cameras in the board room to spy on personal notes of the two supervisors who don't agree with her policy, bringing in 35 plain clothed SWAT team members to shadow pro-ccw speakers at the BOS meetings and violate free speech by intimidation. If for nothing else, bringing justice down there would be worth the AB 357 law change in itself.
Also, in recent years, some counties have been passing the buck on ccw issuance and telling residents to apply to the incorporated city where they live. PC 12050 allows for this, but if every city in your county refuses to issue, then we have a problem. What if one city issues, but the others don’t? What if the only people receiving permits are in unincorporated parts of the county, while residents in that county who live in incorporated cities, can’t obtain a permit because the sheriff is telling those people to go to the chief of police in the city where they live? Try getting a permit if you live in Grass Valley. Nevada County won’t issue to you either. But Truckee police issues permits. Is that fair?
AB 357 would eliminate this problem. We also need reciprocity here in California and a bill has been introduced for that as well. A Calif. permit holder can carry in several states, such as Utah with their Calif. permit. But a Utah permit holder resident can't carry here.
Some say the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with concealed weapons permits, but in the case, Heller vs. D.C., the Supreme Court found that the right to bear arms is an individual right and went a step further by stating, "The second amendment guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." Confrontations don’t happen solely at home in the dead of night. In fact, the majority of confrontations happen outside of the home. Because the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms "in case of confrontation" and the chance of any such confrontation is more likely outside of the home, the issuance of concealed weapon permits is indeed a 2nd Amendment issue.