Let me be perfectly clear, I support an individual’s second amendment right. Period. I believe in “shall issue” as the standard for law abiding citizens when they apply for a CCW. Period. I believe “may issue” should have no more of a “good cause” test than an individual wants to protect themselves or their families. Period. These are the foundational beliefs forming my position and will be the foundation from which I approach the policy on issuing Carry Concealed Weapon permits (CCW) as the Sheriff of Orange County.
What is “shall issue?” This prefered standard means as long as you pass basic requirements set out by state law, the issuing authority shall issue you a permit. No good cause requirement. “May Issue” on the other hand, has the same requirements but mandates applicants show “good cause” beyond self-defense. It is important to note, the State establishes the requirement for “shall issue” or “may issue.” The Sheriff determines what qualifies as good cause and as far as I am concerned, there is no greater cause than wanting to protect yourself or your family.
The State of California’s constant attacks on gun rights for law abiding citizens is bizarre to say the least. Especially when you consider all the laws and propositions allowing violent felons out of prison before they do their time making all of us less safe. At the same time the Legislature is introducing laws to restrict lawful gun ownership, they are introducing legislation removing penalties against criminals who use firearms in their crimes. They make law abiding citizens less safe and refuse to allow us to defend ourselves while lessening the penalties for criminals using firearms in the commission of a crime.
The Supreme Court had a chance to clarify the constitutional issue of shall issue versus may issue in the Peruta v. California case. SCOTUS refused to hear the case allowing the 9th circuit decision to stand, reaffirming the State of California’s “may issue” law. Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent, “For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the second amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: they reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.” The majority on SCOTUS punted. Justice Thomas spoke about the court somehow viewing the second amendment as a “disfavored right” and how the court has heard 35 cases involving the first amendment and 25 cases involving the fourth amendment. The last time SCOTUS heard a second amendment case was 2010.
There is hope on the SCOTUS front and it comes in the form of Grace v. District of Columbia. The D.C. circuit court of appeals ruled the restrictive “may issue” law in D.C. was unconstitutional. Hopefully this case lands in the Supreme Court and clarity is provided as to the constitutionality of “shall issue.” Time will tell. There will be other cases (Flanagan v. Harris, a California lawsuit) challenging the “may issue” doctrine and the hope is SCOTUS will have to make a decision.
The data on restrictive gun laws for law abiding citizens shows there is more crime in areas with the most restrictions. This should not surprise anyone. The 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccarria wrote, "The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." One need not look any farther than Chicago for proof.
As Sheriff, I will stand firm on my foundational beliefs grounded in the Constitution regarding the Second Amendment. I believe law abiding citizens have the right to protect themselves wherever they go. I will find innovative ways to bring efficiency to the process making sure to limit the time it takes to obtain a CCW. I look forward to working with those law abiding citizens who want to make themselves safer and by extension their communities safer.