Monday, August 22, 2011

CalGuns Foundation's Strategy For Carry In California

Gene Hoffman of the CalGuns Foundation is a really smart guy and it shows in the methodical strategy to win handgun carry for all in California that he has outlined below. I believe it was Gene who said last September at the 2010 Gun Rights Policy Conference, "we lost our gun rights one step at a time and we will have to win them back on step at a time."

As to why anyone not living in California should even care, one-eighth of all Americans live in the Golden State. They have 53 Representatives in Congress. What begins there often ends up in the rest of the United States over time. If Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had her way concealed carry laws in the rest of the U.S. would look like those in California.
As I read around the web, I see a lot of confusion and lack of understanding about what CGF is up to to clean up and sanitize carrying a firearm in urban California.

I want to outline the strategy a bit as there have been enough public revelations to make it easy to help outline what's going on.

The way we see the carry problem here is that there are big issues and little issues that can be resolved both before and after a SCOTUS carry case.

Big Issue

The big issues are the Good Cause and Good Moral Character requirements of California law. Also, we're taking the narrowest and strongest view of carry which is that it will be heavily influenced by governments' ability to place time place and manner restrictions on it so long as loaded carry of some sort is allowed all to all non prohibiteds. That's why we filed Sykes which became Richards v. Prieto. That's also why SAF also filed, Palmer v. DC, Bateman v. Perdue (NC), Higtower v. Boston, Muller v. Maenza (NJ), Woolard v. Sheridan (MD), and Moore v. Madigan (IL). The whole point was to get SCOTUS to confirm there is a right to carry and may issue/discretionary laws are a prior restraint on the right to carry. Williams and Masciandaro are criminal actions that moved faster and may get us a SCOTUS carry case faster. We are currently cautiously optimistic that we'll get a a carry case decision from SCOTUS by 6/30/2012, but we're pretty confident that if that date isn't hit, it would certainly be complete by 6/30/2013.

Pre SCOTUS Clean Up - The Sunshine Initiative

1. The clean up of California can start now - even before we win the big issue. Amongst the things that need to be fixed are Sheriffs with no policy, Sheriffs who force you to waste money by (having insurance, getting a doctor's note, making you apply to a PD who will absolutely turn you down first, etc.) This effort can be seen by SF Sheriff's Office finally issuing a (bad) policy and is exemplified by Rossow v. Merced.

2. Also, some sheriffs tend to be far more lenient on good cause statements from people they "know" for whatever reason. As such we can force a lot of sheriffs to head toward shall issue now (while we wait on SCOTUS) with cases like Scocca in Santa Clara that rely on Guillory v. Gates. This was why we sued Ventura for not disclosing their good cause statements.

3. Further, non California residents really have no way to carry in California. That's why we filed Peterson v. Denver County Sheriff of the Week. We can prove the issue in the 10th Circuit (and get Californian's the ability to carry in Denver) and then re-import that decision.

4. California's license is pretty darn clean. Even 18 year olds can get it. However, we're watching NRA's handgun purchase and carry cases in Texas because we'll want to import those wins here too.

All of this means that, while we wait, more people get permits, more counties get closer to shall issue, and when SCOTUS hits, we can quickly remove all the silly roadblocks to getting permits once they're clearly our right - in many cases because we already have removed unlawful procedures in most of the California counties.

Post SCOTUS clean up.

1. Hold outs. We'll have a few. However, we should have fresh case law to prove that much of what they do is unlawful. Add that to the Ezell standard that denial of 2A rights is irreparable harm and we'll choose one or two counties to make examples of with TROs and PIs.

2. Too slow. Some counties will move too slowly - or are already too slow. Part of the plan with point 1, is to address that. Some time is allowed to complete the background checks, but after the initial crush of applicants 30-60 days is more than enough to process licenses.

3. Too expensive. Many gun owners can't afford the license. Government is going to have to make accommodations for them. Our initial license is expensive. It's ongoing maintenance is actually pretty cheap.

4. Other stuff. Psych evals will be killed by inference from a SCOTUS decision but we may have to pick on some issuer. More 42 USC 1988 fees for the attorneys!

A couple additional notes.

1. Licensed carry may be the bare minimum. Just as those of us closely watching Heller got a lot wider decision than we were expecting around carry, who knows how wide SCOTUS' carry decision will be. We're asking for the narrowest that gives us a real right because it's prudent. If we get more on the first bite, well... Things above may be stated too conservatively.

2. CGF has focused on Sheriffs because they can't weasel out like a PD can/could. However, that means in the future (and even now) sometimes the PD you live in could be a better option. We expect competition based on customer service between sheriffs and PD's to pop up after SCOTUS. That's the flip side of our relatively expensive initial permit - it's a decent revenue source for cash strapped agencies.

I'm sure there is something I've forgotten, but I hope this clarifies what we're up to a bit. There is nothing truly proprietary here - it's just the best way to go about making life easy for CA gun owners who want to carry a firearm. There are a couple of additional items/clean ups that I've not talked about as we need to hold those back until we file them, but suffice it to say that there is a plan and that it should be relatively easy for all who want to carry - hopefully starting July 4, 2012.

I expect the biggest problem to be the lines. I can already tell you that BoF is impressed at what we've done in a couple of counties already based on their "carry applications pending" stats.
I certainly hope Gene is correct that the biggest problem will be the lines!


  1. We already have issues with lines in those counties we fix. In my conversation with CA DOJ the other day, they didn't hesitate to attribute the spikes in applications/issuances to our Initiative and Sykes settlement. I should have hot-off-the-press carry license data from DOJ within the next 2 weeks, which should prove interesting as I am expecting a new data point this time - no. of applications pending.

  2. @Brandon: I'll look forward to seeing that data.

  3. On the cultural side I have a few comments about why I'm optimistic about California, comments I made at Sebastian's that I'd like to repeat here.
    Part of the strategy in California has to be just to keep the pin-heads busy and close-focused, and playing games with snippy legislation so they don’t see the emerging Big Picture – so good, let’s do it that way.
    One lesson I hope we have learned is that despite their pervasiveness, they are way over their heads in legal skills and knowledge, and have a hugely outsized and un-challenged view of their own skill-set that bears no objective correlation to reality.
    The California Left’s lack of objectivity and reliance on rote Doctrine and simplistic Lefty notions has resulted in a near clinical example of the Dunning–Kruger effect – “unskilled and unaware.” The reality is that there’s no competition among them in their own kindergarten Leftspace - blood-letting yes, as the standard Lefty practice - but they’ve begun to produce weaker and weaker candidates from a shrinking pool of electorally/genetically inferior and untested, intransigent Leftoids.
    They *believe* themselves to be oh-so clever, but they write laws so badly and so full of holes and un-forced errors that it’s relatively easy (but time consuming) to tie them up in court and force a countervailing opinion to result. So if necessary let them go down that crooked road, and we’ll keep straightening them out – and since they are unskilled and unaware they fail to learn from any of their own mistakes, so we end up winning.
    Hell you can buy a S&W M&P AR15 in California now, in several different configurations. Just a few years ago major Manufacturers were afraid to sell into this (huge) and un-tapped market, but that’s all changed!

  4. Before opening the champagne, remember that it is much more likely to be June 2013 (rather than June 2012) before the Supreme Court issues rulings that address both outside-the-home carry and apply First Amendment prior restraint analysis towards carry licensing schemes.

    That means that California will remain a highly discretionary-issue carry license state for at least another two years - and even this timeline assumes that every piece of strategic litigation goes according to the so-called plan.

  5. "we will have to win them back on step at a time"

    Should that be "we will have to win them back ONE step at a time"?

  6. Thanks for this post. I don't think that keeping gun is bad but using it to kill others is worse. The major problem is that people can easily join the Firearms safety training classes and get the firearm of their own choice. They are not asked about the need of that firearm but simply given that killer in their hand.