(Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, originally requested a response from SDCGO and subsequently reneged on his promise to publish the response.)
In reference to the article published on November 17, 2017, titled “Sheriff Gore Aims to Issue More Concealed Gun Permits in San Diego County,“ ideally a response only discusses policy, but it is necessary to correct inaccuracies in Sheriff Bill Gore’s statements and provide context.
Gore has issued fewer than 1,500 Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permits in San Diego County, which is dismal compared to the number from a similarly sized county with similar demographics like the 12,000+ CCWs issued in Orange County. San Diego’s CCW numbers are even worse when compared to the rest of the country. According to a survey by the Center For Crime prevention published in 2017, approximately 6.4 percent of adult Americans have a CCW permit. For San Diego, a 6.4 percent number would be over 150,000 permits issued. A state with a similar population size and demographics to San Diego County like Iowa reported over 223,000 CCWs issued in 2014.
Of the 58 counties in California, 45 counties issue using a reasonable or relaxed “good cause” policy. Gore described issuing CCWs to sane, trained, law-abiding San Diegans for “self-defense” as “extreme,” but the reality is Gore’s antiquated policy is on the extreme fringe compared to modernized policies by other states and other counties in California. San Diego’s 30+ year old CCW policy on public safety outside of the home is a failure of leadership.
Gore said that he is unable to debate his opponent, Commander Dave Myers, by implying there are job performance issues with Myers by saying, “It’s like [fighting] with one armed [sic] tied behind my back because of all the laws … [limiting expression of] my opinion of why he shouldn’t be sheriff.” Myers has worked for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for over 32 years and Gore promoted Myers to the Command Staff. There are only 13 uniformed officers on the Command Staff out of 4,000+ employees and Commander is just two ranks away from Sheriff. The extraordinary act of promoting someone to the Command Staff means that Gore believes Myers has the skillset and experience to be Sheriff, despite Gore’s sudden pivot to thinly veiled character assassinations that coincide with Myers’ run for office.
Corrections to Gore’s comments in Times of San Diego
- Gore stated, “Carl, Carl, you gotta apply for one if you’re going to get one.’ Carl has never applied for a CCW.” Until October, it was standard for the Sheriff’s Licensing Division clerks to turn people away from applying if they did not meet Gore’s restrictive “good cause” requirement. In February 2014 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision against Gore’s policies, affirming the right of people to obtain a CCW for self-defense which resulted in approximately 3,000 new applications submitted in San Diego. None were approved by Gore.
- Gore was quoted in the article, “I said: ‘Michael, work with me. Let’s see if we can broaden it. It would satisfy a lot of your supporters. That’s what we’re trying to do right now.” Gore did not say this to me. I have tried to get Gore to budge on his good cause policy for a decade. I maintain that the only way to make the process objective and non-discriminatory is to accept “self-defense” as good cause. However, I have made many proposals to Gore to make small, reasonable changes to the required documentation to be approved for a CCW, without any success. Examples of suggested changes were a professional license from an industry that works with high value or dangerous items or possibly dangerous clients (contractor license, medical license, State Bar card, firearms instructor license, realtor, etc.), documentation showing you are physically handicapped (unable to defend yourself or get away), applicable military service, or proof of volunteer security services for a religious establishment. These suggestions continue to give Gore discretion while expanding his policy to better meet the needs of San Diegans. Over lunch in 2016, I told Gore the story of a friend who is Jewish and observes the Sabbath by walking to his synagogue from his house dressed in traditional garb and is frequently threatened during his commute. Gore’s response to me was a sarcastic tone, “You want me to arm the religions now and start a holy war?”I kept it to myself at the time, but I was truly appalled by his comment directed at everyday people who simply want to defend the life of their family. In October of this year (an election year), Gore told us he has budged a little, but we cannot tell how much. As of this writing, of the dozens of people sent to the Licensing Division to apply for a CCW, none have received approval.
- The article reads, “Noting that Orange County loosened its CCW rules after a 9th U.S. Circuit panel initially ruled against San Diego County, Gore predicted that ‘when [permit] renewals come in, they’ll start going back to their old [and stricter] policy.’” There is no evidence to support Gore’s statement. Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes was interviewed on Gun Sports Radio in October and Barnes is proud of the 12,000 permits issued and the 2,000+ permits in their pipeline. Orange County is implementing a new computer system and hiring staff to accommodate the volume. After overseeing an increase from 950 CCWs to over 12,000 in the last five years, Undersheriff Barnes said the reason for broadening their policy is they have found that “There are a lot of good, responsible gun owners in Orange County.” Gore’s statement about reverting to a restrictive policy is particularly troubling. Even though his statement applies to Orange County, this unsubstantiated comment appears to be a strong indicator that Gore has no problem changing his mind after the election is over.
- In another section the article reads, “So apply,” Gore implored. “If you [have] anything out there that you can articulate short of ‘I want one,’ apply.” His new, election-year willingness to issue is an improvement, but his written policy is no help to the public. San Diego County Gun Owners is determined to be a part of the solution and Friday we posted a video giving the best available information to help people apply for a CCW in San Diego.
After talks with his staff over the summer, Gore added seven bullet points to his website that explain his policy slightly, but Gore’s policy remains vague and highly subjective. The average San Diegan is unable to determine what is required in a good cause statement or how Gore’s policy applies to their individual situation, keeping them from applying to exercise their right of protection outside the home. This subjectivity is reminiscent of the Jim Crow voting laws in the Southern states that required voters to pay a poll tax and pass a written test before voting. The intent of those laws was to keep minorities, the poor, and immigrants from exercising their right to vote, just like the intent of Gore’s restrictive “good cause” policy is to keep all but a lucky few (usually the wealthy or connected) from having the choice to defend their life outside of the home with a CCW.
The number of CCW permits is only a symptom; not the core issue.
Michael A. Schwartz
San Diego County Gun Owners PAC
San Diego County Gun Owners PAC is a diverse and inclusive 950-plus-member PAC with representatives from the LGBT, Latino, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The PAC’s sponsored events include gun safety classes, small gun shows, sporting clay shoots, social gatherings and pistol, rifle and shotgun experiences taught by professional instructors. Schwartz said while there are successful national and state level Second Amendment groups, SDCGO is one of only two local, county Second Amendment advocacy organization, the other one in California’s Orange County. Founded in 2015, the San Diego County Gun Owners is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. For more information on SDCGO, visit www.sandiegocountygunowners.com.