Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CalGuns Foundation Launches CCW Project

The CalGuns Foundations has launched a new web portal dedicated to providing information about concealed carry in every county of California. They call it their Carry License/CCW Compliance and Sunshine Initiative. The goal is to make CCW-related information available to the law-abiding public in one central location and to prod local governments into compliance with California state law.
"Detailed information about carry licensing, or CCW (Carry a Concealed Weapon), has historically been kept out of reach by the local authorities who issue carry permits," notes Calguns Foundation Director Brandon Combs. "Many Sheriffs don't want citizens to see to the current reality of the right to bear arms in their county. It's time that we hold these officials accountable." As part of the initiative, Calguns Foundation and its network of volunteers requested from each of California's 58 sheriffs carry license-related documents such as their policy, local forms, and application instructions as well as statements of “good cause” that lead to both granted permits and denials. "After reviewing a small sample of the records, we knew we had to make a real effort to clean up policies that violate state or Federal law across the state."
The new web portal will have county-specific information including editable forms, contact information for each sheriff's office, and all carry license-related local materials. There will also be county-specific discussion threads so that applicants and others can share information and experiences. The site will also have as it becomes available copies of each county's accepted "good cause" statements with applicant information redacted.

Gene Hoffman, chairman of the CalGuns Foundation had this to say about the site:
"We want the public to know how each California sheriff determines 'Good Cause' and 'Good Moral Character,’' their only areas of discretion under existing law. There is a substantial public interest in this information since the right to bear arms hinges squarely on these standards, which currently vary from county to county,"...“We believe that after the McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court case, the Second Amendment right to bear arms requires that “good cause” be interpreted as ‘self defense’ and ‘good moral character’ be interpreted as ‘not prohibited from possessing firearms.’ We have already filed a federal lawsuit entitled Sykes v. McGinness challenging the constitutionality of unfettered discretion in carry licensing in Sacramento and Yolo County.”
Concurrent with the roll-out of the CCW project, CalGuns has sued Ventura County for because Sheriff Bob Brooks decided to withhold certain public records in violation of the California Public Records Act. The complaint can be found here. Their attorney had this to say about the lawsuit:
"I am not sure what they are hiding, but Ventura's suppression of records previously held by the courts to be public should concern all those who expect accountability from public officials," said Mr. Jason Davis, who brought the case on The Calguns Foundation’s behalf. "This is the first in a potential string of lawsuits to be filed against local agencies should they continue to disregard the public's interest in their carry licensing programs. Not only does the Act require these authorities to release the information, the very application Sheriff Brooks refused to produce reminds applicants that the applications are public records which could be disclosed upon request. It makes no sense for counties to fight losing battles in these tough economic times."

1 comment:

  1. The suit against Ventura is a template for others to use against counties who are non-responsive to providing CCW information. The CBS v. Block California Supreme Court precedent gives the counties no helps whatsoever, and assuming stare decicis holds, will drive courts to enforce disclosure. The dirty little secret of "may issue" CCW is the corruption it engenders - it's not about discretion, its about campaign (and other) contributions.