by Michael A. Schwartz
I spent last weekend representing our Gun Owners of California booth at two different locations; the Del Mar Gun show and the San Diego County Republican Party’s open house. The one topic that kept coming up over and over again from both groups of people was the issue of concealed weapon permits.
Background: A concealed weapon permit (commonly referred to as a CCW) is a state permit issued by the sheriff of each county. You must take a class, complete an application, pay a fee, pass a background check, and have “good cause” in order to receive a CCW.
Almost all sheriffs in California accept “personal protection” as acceptable for the good cause requirement. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore does not. His policy is to only issue to people who have a verifiable threat against their life or (as the NRA has stated) if they are a part of a fundraising club like the Honorary Deputy Sheriffs Association. So if you are being mugged or attacked, make sure to have your attacker take a minute to sign an affidavit agreeing that he is in fact attacking you so that you can pause the interaction long enough to file the right paperwork needed by Sheriff Gore in order to properly defend your life.
Peruta Recap: The case that everyone is curious about is Peruta vs. San Diego County Sheriff William Gore, in which Ed Peruta is suing Gore over his interpretation of California’s CCW laws. An important distinction to make is the lawsuit is not against the state of California, nor does it look to change California’s laws. The lawsuit is against Sheriff Gore and his internal policies when it comes to issuing concealed weapon permits.
Initially Peruta lost in court so the case was appealed. In February of 2014 a three judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sheriff Gore’s policy for issuing a CCW is unconstitutional. This decision caused the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to issue CCWs for people stating their good cause as personal safety. Months later the 9th Circuit Court asked to for an 11 judge panel to hear the case and on June 16th of this year, oral arguments were heard again.
It is anyone’s guess how this will turn out. No matter which side wins, it is safe to say the other side will appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. After stating publicly that he would follow the decision of the three judge panel, Sheriff Gore is still not issuing. He changed his position and is now waiting for the decision to be “final.”
Does It Matter? The lawsuit was the basis for all the questions over the weekend at the gun show and GOP event. An important point getting lost in the legal clutter is that Sheriff Gore is able to issue CCWs for people for their self-defense and he can do it today. There is no need to wait for a lawsuit to exhaust all possible legal avenues. There is no law limiting Sheriff Gore from interpreting the good cause requirement to include personal protection and self-defense. Sheriff Gore frequently points to state law for the reason for his polices, but the reality is he can follow state law while issuing permits to San Diegans wanting to be able to protect themselves.
The decision to ban San Diegans from carrying the firearms they legally own and have been trained to operate safely — that ban is not from Washington D.C., Sacramento, or the 9th Circuit Court. It is entirely because of Sheriff Gore.
Schwartz is the Volunteer Regional Coordinator for Gun Owners of California