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Calif. Federal Judge: Concealed Carry Requires Specific Threat

May 17, 2011  | 

A U.S. District Court judge has sided with a northern California sheriff's policy of issuing concealed-carry permits only to applicants who face a specific safety threat.

In a Monday ruling, Judge Morrison England Jr. in Sacramento endorsed Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto's approach. In his opinion, Judge England wrote that the Second Amendment "does not create a fundamental right to carry a concealed weapon in public."

Sheriff Prieto was sued by advocates who say sheriffs and police chiefs should issue the permits to applicants as long as they aren't mentally ill, do not have a criminal background, and complete a training course. Most of the state's 58 sheriffs follow a similar policy, according to Merced County Sheriff Mark M. Pazin.

Sheriff Pazin, who is also president of the California State Sheriff's Association, strongly supports top law enforcement personnel vetting concealed-carry permits.

"Basically you have gun rights advocates challenging the discretion of sheriffs mostly and some police chiefs," Sheriff Pazin tells POLICE Magazine. "People have the right to bear arms at their residence or transfer [a weapon] safely to a place of business. To take that discretion away from the local sheriff or police chief is a recipe for disaster."

A sheriff's or chief's reasoning for issuing a concealed-carry permit varies. Sheriff Pazin said he looks for a "constant and reported threat against your life" that's been documented in a law enforcement report.

He has issued permits to people threatened by a stalker after a bad breakup and night workers with specialty equipment.

Similar lawsuits challenging concealed-carry permit issuing have been filed in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.

Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

Rick Swan @ 5/17/2011 6:08 PM

Informative but:

In the same breath that the Sheriff states his reasoning for screening the issuance of a CCW (read "restrictive"), the California Assembly is working on AB 144 which bans the existing "open carry" law. While neighboring states like AZ are approving concealed weapon carry, permits optional. Getting a CCW in CA is ridiculously hard and the LAPD will be facing legal action for not complying with previous court orders for them to make the application process more accessible to the average citizen. If you can't carry a weapon exposed or concealed you leave many law abiding citizens with little choice but to be caught doing something illegal because there are no legal options left. We are asking citizens to place their safety solely in the hands of law enforcement while the state and many agencies are fiscally a mess and cannot afford to provide the level of protection needed to confidentlly say "leave your guns at home, we've got this."

Kentucky @ 5/17/2011 7:24 PM

What a dumb statement. Why do you, as a law enforcement representitive, think you are better and have a right that an ordinary citizen should not have. California must be doing something right because they don't have any problems out there... yeah right. Glad I don't live there! Gotta say, as a cop I don't mind at all when law abiding citizens are armed.
Kentucky is a "shall issue" state. I have noticed all the people I have arrested with guns, none of them had a CCDW permit. I guess the good old Sheriff finds that odd to though.

ROSCOELSE @ 5/17/2011 10:10 PM

Vote them out and any politician out that goes along with this,this must stem from governor jerry and friends.

Morning Eagle @ 5/18/2011 1:41 AM

This decision appears to be typical of too many federal judges that are willing to skew legislation, and the Constitution. Apparently "judge" England hasn't read the most recent SCOTUS rulings affirming the right of law-abiding people to possess the means to defend themselves when necessary.

Those who follow this line of "reasoning" must not realize that most criminals intending to harm someone do NOT warn their victim beforehand to give them a chance to take protective measures such as applying for a permit to carry a firearm and waiting for the approval of an issuing agency. Common sense tells most people the police cannot be everywhere at once to deter possible violent crimes and for the most part are relegated to a reactive role AFTER the fact. Prieto and Pazin presume to know better than an individual whether he or she must be able to protect themselves. Basing issuance of a permit on a "constant and reported threat against your life that's been documented in a law enforcement report" is patently ridiculous. Few victims of violent attack know ahead of time that it is going to happen. Plus that, just look at how many have been attacked and killed (especially women) while waiting for a CCW permit to be processed and issued. The true "recipe for disaster" is to deny law-abiding citizens their right to be responsible for their own safety and that of those around them and the reasonable choice of the means to defend themselves against deadly force. Less than 1 percent of CCW holders are ever involved in using firearms to commit crimes and states that have implemented reasonable carry laws have experienced distinct reductions in violent crime rates.

Of course applicants should be vetted, no one really disputes that in today's world even though everyone knows criminals do not apply for permits but such vetting should be reasonable, prompt, and incur no undue delay in the issuance of the permit. To do otherwise is an unconstitutional abuse o

Morning Eagle @ 5/18/2011 1:48 AM

Police Mag's word counter must be different than mine. The last sentence should read: To do otherwise is an unconstitutional abuse of authority.

Afghan Vet @ 5/18/2011 2:37 AM

All this judge did was make outlaws out of ordinarily law abiding citizens just trying to protect themselves and their families. The Supreme Court already ruled that the police have no duty under the constitution to protect the citizens, which means that they have to protect themselves, now, they take away that ability. Something doesn't add up here. It's gotten to the point in California that activist judges are making policy from the bench, bowing down to special interest groups and making kneejerk reactions to current events. Is there another version of the Constitution out there that I didn't know about? The one I read said nothing about the right to bear arms only if there is a specific threat, it says that the right to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed. How much plainer could the founding fathers put it? Does anybody out there know if California has gun rights in their state Constitution? Because if it does then the 4th amendment should apply and this ruling by a U.S. judge shouldn't carry any weight. Here in Michigan, our state Constitution gives us the right to keep and bear arms, openly or concealed with a permit, and neither the federal government or any local government can say otherwise. I really feel for the citizens of California, while the rest of the country (except for the Peoples Republic of Illinois, and New York) has figured out that an armed populace is nothing to fear and that it is our right under the Constitution to carry arms, openly or concealed, California has limited magizine capacity and limited concealed weapons licences only to those that can show cause. I bet the judge and his buddies all have concealed permits, whether they can show cause or not. This just shows that the common man means nothing to the rich and powerful, when in reality it's the common man who gives the power to men such as

Frank @ 5/18/2011 6:36 AM

Instead of making more foolish laws why don't you go after the gangs and the illegals? The courts are probably afraid to prosecute. I know the cops aren't! Your state is a mess because of all the free liberal programs. Jerry Brown Ha! You learned what?

JM @ 5/18/2011 7:50 AM

I’ve been a cop for 25 years and would love to know in what part of "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" do they interpret any restrictions, or that it somehow does NOT create a fundamental right??? The only people obeying these rulings are the law abiding citizens who are now sheep, criminals are always packing in CA...

Laughing @ 5/18/2011 8:02 AM

This federal judge is contradicting the landmark US Supreme Court decision from DC, so his "opinion" will end up in the dumpster where it--and he--belongs. As far as the sheriff and chiefs are concerned, the law gives them no such discretion anymore. They are subject to the mandates of the Constitution and better stop playing politics with the Bill of Rights. I'm a top-cop myself and I think anyone adopting thir position is UNWORTHY of the public's trust in such a powerful position.

Josh Adamson @ 5/18/2011 9:16 AM

The judge's ruling is a slap in the face to common sense and the "whim of the Sheriff" policy is unethical and dishonest. And a slap in the face to the public. As a practical matter, in many cases the "need" is nothing more than the recipient being a buddy of the Chief or donating to a campaign fund. The "discretionary" policies are also dishonest because in many jurisdictions (like Los Angeles), CCW's are issued routinely to Asst D.A.'s and other bureaucrats, while denied to even the most deserving citizens.

thugbuster @ 5/18/2011 11:41 AM

amen afghanvet and laughing, someone who becomes a victim of violent crime after being denied the permit should file suit against the good ole sheriff for failure to protect.

Jack Betz @ 5/18/2011 2:54 PM

Sheriff, you are a traitor to your oath of office. I hope the people vote you out.

Fred Ross @ 5/18/2011 8:13 PM

I retired from Calif. Law Enforcement and immediately moved out of state. They were passing laws that I could no longer enforce with a clear conscience.

As for their argument: "To take that discretion away from the local sheriff or police chief is a recipe for disaster." That is ridiculous. I now live in a "shall issue" state, and everybody has a concealed handgun license. There is no disaster, period. What are they afraid of, the fact that they would no longer have the power over the populace? I believe it's more about the egos of the various Sheriffs and Chiefs than it is about mayhem in the streets. Many states have already proven that argument wrong, so let it go.

Tim Graver @ 5/19/2011 8:13 AM

Another reason not to live in Kalifornia!!! What a judge, they can keep him A right is a right!

D @ 12/5/2011 1:19 AM

Funny how that the fact that over 75% of the states are SHALL issue meaning that you apply, you get a CCW, crazy that theres not blood shed in the street. Oh wait thats right, in 09 there was a study done of over 2million registered CCW holders, there were 168 total firearms "instances" out of 2 million. Not even a fraction of a percent, fact is there are more firearms "instances" among off=duty police then among CCW holders

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