California has been hailed as a model for gun laws by those who favor tough restrictions, but the Golden State’s effort to limit who can carry a concealed weapon in public has looked more like a misfire.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled the state’s concealed gun laws run afoul of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, California lawmakers have tried and failed to pass an alternative. In the meantime, a second sheriff now faces questions about whether favoritism influenced who got licensed to pack heat, fueling perceptions the state’s rules were not only unconstitutional but also recipes for corruption.
As Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith faces trial later this month on charges of tying concealed carry weapon permits, or CCWs, to political favors and donations, similar questions now swirl around Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Meanwhile, anxious lawmakers are attempting a do-over on the licensing rules.
State Senator Anthony Portantino, D-Burbank, said the state is seeking to devise “objective criteria” for concealed weapons permits that “will both comply with the Supreme Court and make the system uniform and less likely to be prone to cronyism.” But Portantino’s concealed weapons bill died last month because some legislators who worried the new criteria still went too far to limit the permits wouldn’t support it.
At issue is a long-established system in California and a handful of other mostly Democrat-run states that had aimed at tamping down gun violence by making it illegal for most people to carry guns in public. Those states said sheriffs and police chiefs may issue permits to carry a gun if they decide the applicant has a good reason.
But California’s concealed gun permit rules were unevenly administered. In about half the state’s counties — typically urban and politically liberal — police chiefs and sheriffs have made them hard to get, while in rural and conservative counties, they have issued them more freely.
Smith was more tight-fisted with the permits overall, making her a target from gun owners who said she played favorites when she did grant them, while Villanueva had made a point of making them broadly easier to obtain than his predecessors had.
A civil grand jury in December alleged Smith leveraged her control over the permits for political favors. The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 15 that among the thousands of people who got concealed carry weapon permits under Villanueva …read more
Source:: The Mercury News