Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Right-to-Arms Rally in Los Angeles

Mayors Against Illegal Guns sounds like an innocuous organization. Who isn’t against illegal guns? Illegal guns are those used by criminals in the commission of their crimes … right? Not exactly.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns come to Los Angeles, but times have changed.
Michael Bloomberg’s pet gun-control group operates on the standard prohibitionist model. Not only would these mayors make owning and using firearms more difficult for law-abiding citizens in a vain attempt to thwart criminals, they would manufacture even more “illegal guns” by broadening the already broad categories of prohibited persons. Maybe that’s not so bad, you think? However, they would also circumvent due process of law and proper adjudication in order to do so, which is the much graver threat to personal freedom and civil rights.

Right-to-arms activists rally to the cause.
This week, Mayor Bloomberg brought his show to Los Angeles, and that is how I found myself at a rally sponsored by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Under a blue but slightly cloudy sky, I joined fellow civil-rights proponents in front of the dilapidated headquarters of the Los Angeles Times. For a weekday event scheduled with short notice, it was fairly well attended, given that these were working people who had to use vacation credits or sacrifice a day’s pay to be there.

One gun owner and his sign cut right to the heart of the matter.
Gene Hoffman, Jr., of the Calguns Foundation spoke to the news media and addressed the public. Contrasting the Bloomberg group’s focus on the dozens of daily gun-related homicides, he cited conservative statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice that estimate more than 2,100 defensive gun uses per day. In other words, guns save far more lives than they take.

Gene Hoffman talks to a reporter.
The gathering was also somewhat noteworthy in that rallying and demonstrating are not things gun owners usually do. Instead, we let our factors (such as the National Rifle Association) in Washington or Sacramento do the talking for us … and grumble quietly when things don’t go our way. Expectations are clearly changing, even if today’s event was little more than an exchange of propaganda.

Andrew Mendez meets with police officers summoned by L.A. Times staff.
As it often is, the “after party” was as interesting, if not more so than the event itself. I had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Hoffman discuss the constitutional, judicial, and legislative factors that should firmly recognize the right to carry a firearm within the next two or three years. He even let us in on the ironic but nearly foolproof method that should soon moot California’s ban on so-called large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices.

Like the skies over Los Angeles, so much has changed since I met with the NRA’s California leadership in early A.D. 2008, several months before the Heller decision. Gene Hoffman was there then too and ever more diplomatic than I in explaining to the old guard how the information revolution had affected the situation and our ability to organize and motivate people. I saw that again today, with renewed confidence that while there may still be minor setbacks, the overall victory appears inevitable.

And then things should start to get interesting.…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Right-to-Carry Update for California

Right-to-carry reform inched forward in California today as oral arguments were heard for Richards v. Prieto. Arguing for the plaintiffs, Alan Gura challenged the constitutionality of the state’s arbitrarily applied discretionary licensing system (and specifically how such discretion is exercised in Yolo County). With very narrow exceptions, the only legal way to carry a functional firearm for self-defense or other lawful purposes in California is to have a concealed-handgun license issued by the county sheriff or local police chief. As Gura argued, for these licenses to comply with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, they must be provided to all applicants not prohibited from owning firearms and cannot be denied for arbitrary reasons.

Regardless of how the judge eventually rules, appeals are expected.