Monday, February 23, 2009

AB 357 - California CCW Reform?

In a previous post I told everyone to not hold their breath waiting for reform of California's CCW law. A bill introduced in the California Assembly may change that prediction. Here are the facts as I understand them. First, the text of the legislation, which amends Section 12050 of the Penal Code as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 12050 of the Penal Code is amended to read:
12050. (a) (1) (A) The sheriff of a county, upon proof that the
person applying is of good moral character , that good cause
exists for the issuance,
and that the person applying
satisfies any one of the conditions specified in subparagraph (D) and
has completed a course of training as described in subparagraph (E),
may shall issue to that person a
license to carry a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
being concealed upon the person in either one of the following
(i) A license to carry concealed a pistol, revolver, or other
firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
(ii) Where the population of the county is less than 200,000
persons according to the most recent federal decennial census, a
license to carry loaded and exposed in that county a pistol,
revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the
That is all. No other changes are proposed in this bill that I could find.

My question is this: do these incredibly modest changes to the text substantially change the status quo with CCW issuance in California? I am not a lawyer, not am I a legislator, so the changes that to me seem crucial, may in fact be inconsequential. If this bill passes and is signed into law, will it change the how CCW permits are issued, or will the agencies be able to wiggle around what appears to be a big change?

Here is the current status for the bill:


MEASURE : A.B. No. 357
AUTHOR(S) : Knight.
TOPIC : Firearms: license to carry concealed firearm.

Majority Vote Required
State-Mandated Local Program
Non-Tax Levy

LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 02/19/2009
LAST HIST. ACTION : Read first time. To print.

TITLE : An act to amend Section 12050 of the Penal Code,
relating to firearms.

This bill was introduced by Assembly Member Steve Knight, whose office is located in Palmdale, CA, a southern California city in a generally conservative region, which should be no surprise.

So, what is next? I would sent Assemblyman Knight a message indicating your support of his bill. And I would send a message to your own Assembly member also indicating your support for this bill. As can be seen in the history, this bil has not even been sent to a committee for initial consideration. Perhaps out support could move it along.

What is the Militia of the United States?

Anti-gun advocates always contend that the Militia is the same as the National Guard in support of a collective right interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. This is view is only half-way correct. Title 10, Section 311 of the United States Code defines the militia:


Subtitle A--General Military Law



Sec. 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are--
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Free Republic: Gun Control Hysteria Site

One of this things that I am trying to do with LeftCoastConservative is to introduce fact-based debate into the gun-rights issue. Goodness knows there are many problems facing gun-rights advocates, and I believe that logical arguments based on careful analysis will win our goal: settle once and for all that we have the right to keep and bear arms.

It does not help that there are many posts on the Internet that sound hysterical and dire warnings about possible gun confiscations, and an example was recently posted on the Free Republic:

Many people outside the gun rights community don't know that we had an actual gun confiscation in this country only a few short years ago. Some think that it isn't even possible to confiscate guns from law abiding citizens due to the Second Amendment, and in fact, the gun control advocates use that naivety to claim gun owners are just paranoid. But in September of 2005, citizens of New Orleans found out just how real that threat could be.
Now it is certainly true that gun confiscations happened in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And I agree with the author, Daniel White, that many gun control advocates would take an opportunity to confiscate every gun in America, if they could. What I object to is that NOT ONE respondent to this post, nor Daniel White, mentioned two things that happened since that completely change the situation: the SCOTUS decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, and the Vitter Amendment.

The Heller decision is monumental, and while the White article alludes to people feeling that the 2nd Amendment secures their rights, such may not be the case. This may be true now, but I am confident that the 2nd Amendment will be incorporated to into the 14th Amendment and apply to states. Another confiscation in the aftermath of a large disaster might even give rise to a lawsuit the accomplishes incorporation.

The Vitter Amendment became Federal Law as part of a Homeland Security appropriations bill, and can be found in Public Law 109-295, Section 706. The operative part of this law reads:

or employee of the United States (including any member of the
uniformed services), or person operating pursuant to or under color
of Federal law, or receiving Federal funds, or under control of
any Federal official, or providing services to such an officer,
employee, or other person, while acting in support of relief from
a major disaster or emergency, may—
‘‘(1) temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure
of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal,
State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance
with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation;
‘‘(2) require registration of any firearm for which registration
is not required by Federal, State, or local law;
‘‘(3) prohibit possession of any firearm, or promulgate any
rule, regulation, or order prohibiting possession of any firearm,
in any place or by any person where such possession is not
otherwise prohibited by Federal, State, or local law; or
‘‘(4) prohibit the carrying of firearms by any person otherwise
authorized to carry firearms under Federal, State, or
local law, solely because such person is operating under the
direction, control, or supervision of a Federal agency in support
of relief from the major disaster or emergency.
I think, unless I am missing something, this pretty much closes the matter. The law goes on to state what legal remedies may be pursued if this law is violated. Now this may not prevent an over zealous agency from trying to confiscate firearms in the event of another large disaster, but the agency would have no legal standing to do so, and I think a citizen would be within their rights to refuse to comply with an order to turn over their weapons.

But all of that is beside the point. Why did not someone mention this Federal Law, introduced by representatives of Louisiana by the way, in the Free Republic post? And reading the responses to the post one finds the usual mix of hysteria, bravado, and ignorance, but no additional information added to the discussion.

We need to do better.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lead Ammunition Ban - Fear or Reality?

So many proponents of the gun rights seem to deal in emotion and fear mongering, not in facts. As a pro-gun rights person, this disturbs me promoting a position easily dismissed as FUD does us no favors.

Here is the example that inspires this post: the California Rifle and Pistol Association, of which I am a member, has posted this alert on their web site. On the face of it, one would assume that a statewide lead ammunition ban is imminent. But the facts of the situation indicate otherwise.

Here are the FACTS as I have been able to determine them.

California Condors are an endangered species that live in a range of territory in California, and other states. Condors in California have died, and tests indicate that lead poisoning as the cause in some deaths. Environmentalists have pointed to lead ammunition left in carrion remaining after a animal is dressed out by hunters and subsequently consumed by the condors as the source of the lead poisoning. These concerns lead to a ban of lead ammunition within an area specified as California Condor range. Information about this ban can be found here and here.

Note especially the second document above. Lead ammunition is banned only in the condor range, and only if the person is hunting. Here is an important quote"

"What about target shooting, “plinking”, or firearms for personal protection?

The Commission does not regulate these activities. Use of lead projectiles is legal
unless another government entity has determined otherwise for lands they administer.
The regulations prohibiting lead only relate to possession while engaged in specified
hunting activities."

But the CRPA announcement claims:

"From the beginning, proponents of the current ban have wanted to ban lead ammunition statewide. The California condor was simply being used by the anti-hunters and anti-gunners to carry out this agenda. They have already achieved a partial ban. The next step is to take it statewide. If they are successful, they will push to ban the use of lead ammunition for everyone, not just hunters."

This, especially the last sentence, makes it sound as if a statewide ban is imminent. But a consultation of the California Fish and Game Commission website had no mention of a proposed new rule, so I decided to dig deeper, trying to find the source of the CRPA announcement.

It turns out that during the February 5th meeting of the Fish and Game commission a report was delivered to the Fish and Game Commission about the lead toxicity levels of California Condors in light of the lead ammunition ban that went into effect in July of 2008. No statewide lead ammunition ban was discussed by the commission, but it was mentioned during the public comment period following the report. It was during this phase, that a statewide ban was discussed.

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself. High quality video of the entire meeting, and of each agenda item, can be found at the awesome Cal-Span website. The lead toxicity report is item 6 on the agenda, and may be viewed here.

Three of the speakers advocated a state-wide ban:

Pamela Flick - Defenders of Wildlife
Eric Mills - Action for Animals
Dan Taylor - Audubon California

Other speakers, including a CRPA representative, opposed a statewide ban, as do some Commission members. The Commission did not put consideration of a statewide ban on the agenda for future action because it is thought to be too early in the current lead ammunition ban to determine if it is having any effect.

What about availability of lead-free ammunition for hunting within the Condor range? This was also addressed in the meeting, during which it was stated that increasing numbers of manufacturers are responding to the market with non-lead ammunition, so hunters are still active in the Condor range.

It is clear that there is no imminent statewide lead ammunition ban on the horizon, and if there was, the Fish and Game Commission has the power to ban lead ammunition only for hunting, not for any other use. So the CRPA announcement seems to be fear mongering.

A statewide lead ammunition ban could be enacted the same way the lead ammunition ban in the Condor range range was enacted: via the state legislature. Given the ardent support of such a ban by the people who spoke the the Feb. 5th Commission meeting, it would be wise to maintain vigilance on any proposed legislation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gun Legislation Roundup - 111th Congress

Too often on gun-right forums there is an excess of emotion, and a deficit of information. The reaction to H.R. 45 is a case in point. While that legislation is a potential threat to gun rights in most of the United States (I live in California, where a system much like the one proposed in H.R. 45 is already in effect), it is not the only firearms related legislation being proposed.

The following is a listing from Congress' Website Thomas in which the word "firearms" is present:

H.R.17 : To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the enforcement of such right. Cosponsors (8)

H.R.45 : To provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes. Cosponsors (None)

H.R.197 : To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State. Cosponsors (12)

H.R.256 : To enhance Federal enforcement of hate crimes, and for other purposes. Cosponsors (None)

H.R.257 : To prevent children's access to firearms. Cosponsors (None)

H.R.265 : To target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Cosponsors (15)

H.R.442 : To provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and for other purposes. Cosponsors (9)

H.R.495 : To authorize additional resources to identify and eliminate illicit sources of firearms smuggled into Mexico for use by violent drug trafficking organizations, and for other purposes. Cosponsors (4)

H.R.623 : To provide for greater judicial discretion in sentencing for certain firearms offenses committed in exceptional circumstances. Cosponsors (None)

H.R.675 : To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide police officers, criminal investigators, and game law enforcement officers of the Department of Defense with authority to execute warrants, make arrests, and carry firearms. Cosponsors (None)

H.R.1074 : To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to update certain procedures applicable to commerce in firearms and remove certain Federal restrictions on interstate firearms transactions. Cosponsors (None)

S.205 : A bill to authorize additional resources to identify and eliminate illicit sources of firearms smuggled into Mexico for use by violent drug trafficking organizations, and for other purposes. Cosponsors (6)

S.371 : A bill to amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to allow citizens who have concealed carry permits from the State in which they reside to carry concealed firearms in another State that grants concealed carry permits, if the individual complies with the laws of the State. Cosponsors (17)

Note the number of cosponsors for the various bills. H.R. 45 has none. H.R. 45 was introduced in the previous Congress as well, and it never got out of committee then either. Without cosponsors, a bill has virtually no chance of becoming law.

However, look at two bills attempting to regularize some kind of national right to carry concealed weapons, S.371 and H.R. 197, which have 17 and 12 cosponsors respectively. It would seem that not all is doom and gloom with gun rights in the current Congress.

I encourage all who care about gun rights, or any other type of issue before Congress, to use Thomas to track the content and progress of legislation that is of concern. We don't have to take anyone's word for anything. We can see the raw data and decide for ourselves, and then contact our representatives to let them know where we stand on the issues.

"Yes We Can!"

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Monday, February 16, 2009

California Microstamping Bill

One thing that has had many Californians fearful for their continued 2nd Amendment rights is the signing into law of AB 1471, Crime Gun Identification Act of 2007, effective January 1, 2010.

This law requires that new concealable weapons to have a means of imprinting the make, model, and serial number of the weapon on cartridge cases fired by that weapon.

The text of the law may be found here.

At first blush it may seem that this law would end the sale of handguns in the state, unless firemarma manufacturers started making boutique guns just for the California market. But has an interesting analysis on this issue here.

If this is true, then it would seem that we have nothing to worry about, right?

David Codrea has an update that indicates that the patent loophole may not be as large as we would wish, and I have great faith in the capacity of California to implement any law, no matter how practical, to further a politically correct idea.

And guns are about as politically incorrect an area in California as one can find, with the exception of opposition to gay marriage.

This was one large reason that I hurried forward my purchase of a handgun. It may be the only one I'll ever get to own in this state.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Took The Plunge

Well, I did it, and it turn out differently than I thought: I am now a handgun owner.

I wanted more than the minimum amount of training required by the state to qualify for an HSC (Handgun Safety Certificate), and document that is required to purchase a handgun in California, so I sought out more comprehensive training in my area, Santa Clara County.

BayProfs is a local organization that offers classes in firearms safety and personal protection. I signed up and took the NRA Basic Pistol class, a 10 hour, single day session that was quite valuable for people like myself who have not had much exposure to firearms in the past.

There was a good mix of lecture, demonstration, and hands-on practical handling of revolvers and pistols. The instructors were all very experienced and knowledgeable, most with years of experience in shooting competitively, law enforcement, military, and attendance on famous firearms schools like Gunsite, FrontSight, and Thunder Ranch.

At the end of the evening, the last unit of instruction was a firing range session in which all students were able to shoot a variety of handguns, both pistols and revolvers, in various calibers. Some of those available were models on my short list, and I look forward to shooting them as an evauluation prior to purchase.

Something surprising happened: there was one 1911 style pistol, and I not only shot better than with it any other pistol, I shot much better. In fact, I saw that the 1911 was the most comfortable in my hand, and if I could shoot it well, then what more is there to think about?

To make a long story short, I went out to the local gun shops, perused the available models, and am now the owner of a Kimber Custom II. And I got all of this done just prior to President Obama's inauguration.

This is not to say that I am paranoid about new gun control legislation, but i do live in California, and I wanted to be armed before any new restrictions were put in place, and I think that they are comming.

I'll have more on that later.

Armed Citizens Against Terrorism

I have had one nagging thought ever since I got over the sheer awfulness of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington D. C.: why have we not seen the type of suicide bombings that Isreal suffered, or the type of terrorist attack inflicted on Mumbai last year?

It turns out that someone is thinking about it, and possible counter strategies, as described in this New York Times article .

But my reaction to this article is that they may be over looking a potential resource: armed citizens. Does anyone think that terrorists could shoot up Dallas, Texas, with the same impunity that they had in Mumbai? I have faith that not only would are police shoot back, but some of our concealed weapon permit holders would as well.

Perhaps, as in Isreal, we should encourage more citizens to go about their daily business armed.