Summary & Background:
“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.”
Visitors to the website will now be able to view county-specific pages that include contact information for their sheriff’s office, an editable California Department of Justice standard CCW application form, and all carry license-related local materials. The pages will also incorporate a narrative of each county’s progress in affecting policy compliance as well as a link to county-specific discussion threads at Calguns.net. In coming days, copies of each county’s accepted “good cause” statements (redacted for applicant privacy) will be available for public inspection. Many applicants will find that their “good cause” has already been accepted by their sheriff.
Firearms owners may now sponsor carry policy reform in counties of their choice by making fully tax-deductible contributions at the new Calguns Foundation online storefront (http://www.cgfstore.org/). With each sponsorship, the donor will show their commitment to carry rights by having their name placed prominently in the “Supporters” section of each sponsored county page. County sponsorship will also be available to vendors for an additional donation.
Having found legal violations in nearly every county’s policies and practices related to carry license issuance, The Calguns Foundation will be contacting each to request formal changes in order to bring them into compliance with applicable law and avoid costly litigation. “The California Legislature created uniform licensing procedures for sheriffs to keep carry licensing consistent across the State. Unfortunately, it’s become quite the opposite with even firearms friendly sheriffs imposing illegal policies on the issuance of licenses,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of the Calguns Foundation.
To develop this site, Calguns Foundation requested copies of all CCW applications and their outcomes since January 1, 2007, from the 58 sheriffs. “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,” said Gene Hoffman. “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.”
Some local authorities are attempting to stall the initiative. In response to a request made in July, Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks chose to withhold public records despite a 1986 California Supreme Court case (CBS, Inc. v. Block), which held that such records are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. After several attempts to persuade the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office to follow long-established California law and make their records available for the public, Calguns Foundation was forced to file a lawsuit last Friday in Ventura County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks a court order to compel Ventura’s full compliance with the Public Records Act.
“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.”
For more information on this and other Second Amendment issues, please visit www.calgunsfoundation.org.
The Calguns Foundation (http://www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which serves it’s members by providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper or malicious prosecution. The Calguns Foundation works to educate government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own and lawfully use firearms in California.
Applications, Outcomes to be Turned Over to CGF
San Carlos, CA (Tuesday, July 5, 2011) – In a victory for gun rights and open government, the Ventura County Superior Court ruled in favor of the Calguns Foundation’s request for access to carry permit application records.
Filed in October of 2010, the case sought to compel the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Bob Brooks to disclose carry license application and denials. This information is used by the Foundation in its ongoing Carry License Sunshine Initiative to publish acceptable “good cause” statements so that other similarly situated individuals can obtain carry permits and to investigate for irregularities.
“We’re obviously very pleased with the outcome of this case,” said Gene Hoffman, Chairman of the Calguns Foundation. “We look forward to continuing our investigation of Ventura’s carry license program.”
Calling Ventura’s arguments “conjectural,” the decision makes clear that “ [the Foundation’s] interest [in carry licenses] is a legitimate one… neither specious nor overbroad.”
“We hope that other recalcitrant counties are paying attention,” notes Brandon Combs, a director of CGF and leader of the Sunshine Initiative. “The public has a fundamental right to know how its government is functioning.”
Calguns Foundation’s attorney, Mr. Jason Davis of Davis and Associates, said about the decision, “We’re not done. We will continue to require that sheriffs follow well-established California law in their maintenance and conduct of carry licensing policy and procedures.”
A downloadable copy of the Court’s Statement of Intended Decision may be found at CGF’s downloads library here. More information on Calguns Foundation’s Carry License Compliance and Sunshine Initiative can be found at www.gotcarry.org. For more information on other Second Amendment-related litigation and educational efforts, please visit www.calgunsfoundation.org.