Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Racist Origins Of The Current Concealed Carry Gun Laws In California

A little bit of background information on the subject first: as many of you may know in most States Americans have the right to carry a concealed gun for their own protection.

In 37 states, you can apply for a CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon Permit) with the County Sheriff or the local PD after you passed through a CCW safety class, demonstrated your ability to safely handle and fire a handgun, demonstrated you have the knowledge about the laws dealing with the right of self defense, passed a background check and pay an application fee. The law requires the law enforcement agency issuing the permit to examine all the paperwork you submit and if you accomplish all the requirements, by law they must issue you a CCW.
That type of law is called "SHALL ISSUE"

In 2 states (Vermont and Alaska) any law abiding citizen who can legally own a firearm can also carry a concealed handgun (despite this, I never heard about blood-baths happening in the two states) That type of law is called "UNRESTRICTED"

In 2 states (Wisconsin and Illinois) the law denies any citizen the right to apply for or carry a concealed handgun. That type of law is called "RIGHT DENIED"

And finally, in 9 states (California among them), the law says that you may have a CCW permit issued if you are pass a background check, take the CCW classes and...get this: present the Sheriff or the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer with a "good enough reason" for them to issue you CCW a permit. That type of law is called "MAY ISSUE"

This pretty much means that the CCW issuing policy is left alone at the sole discretion, without any checks and balances to a single individual. That individual may or may not like the way you dress, the color of your skin, the car you drive, or simply - your hairstyle. Nobody can interefer with his decision, period. All he needs to do is to write "Reason not good enough" on your application, and that's the end of it.

Map of Shall Issue, Right Denied, May Issue and Unrestricted States
(double-click to enlarge)

As such, there is no surprise that a lot of Chief Law Enforcement Officers in such states are using this "MAY ISSUE" type of law to severely restrict the right of ordinary citizens to protect themselves while in the same time are issuing CCW permits only to influential people in order to gain political or some other type of advantages.
The most notorious case is that of the LA County Sheriff Lee Baca who denied and continues to deny CCW permits to regular citizens who really needed them (some of the applicants were victims of repeated crimes of violence and some even lost their lives after being denied a CCW permit).

Same Sheriff Lee Baca has a policy of issuing CCW permits to pretty much any Hollywood celebrity -actors, directors, movie producers; he will issue as a favor to any Democrat politician powerful enough and with the right connections to return that favor; or to anybody else that can have the power or the money to put his picture and a favorable article about him on the front page on the LA Times.

What very few people know (myself among them, until this morning) it is the truth, cause and history behind the "MAY ISSUE" CCW law in California - racism.

Read on:

From California CCW:

The following article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 15th, 1923.
It mentions that California's CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) law was passed specifically to prevent Chinese, Latinos and legal immigrants (non-naturalized permenant residents) from being armed. (Emphasis added.)

Note that this was from a time in California in which Hispanics were segregated into separate public schools.

Existing Licenses Inoperative After Dec. 31 1924; Uniform System
Possible Unconstitutionality of Clause Provided for in Drafting

Stringent regulations against carrying concealed firearms or explosives, and prohibition against possession of other deadly weapons become effective on August 7, under the Hawes bill signed by Governor Richardson.

The new measure will install a uniform licensing system for carrying concealed weapons. Licenses now in existence will become inoperative December 31, 1924.

Double-click to enlarge


Possible unconstitutionality of the provision against possession of weapons by non-naturalized residents was admitted in McKissick's letter to the Governor urging signing of the bill, but he pointed out that if this clause should be held invalid the rest of the act will not be affected and that if it can be sustained that it will have a "salutary effect in checking tong wars among the Chinese and vendettas among our people who are of Latin descent."

The provision for additional sentences where weapons are used in committing a felony is one with a sliding scale. The first time the added penalty is from five to ten years; the second from ten to fifteen; the third from 15 to 25 years, and only on the fourth offense it is possible to add more than 25 years to the sentence imposed for the crime itself.

Ku Klux Klan in Anaheim, California, 1924
The Ku Klux Klan in a parade in Anaheim, California, in 1924, the same year California's CCW law passed, with the purpose of disarming Latino and Chinese legal residents. California's CCW system is still regulated under this law.

California's CCW law is one of the last Jim Crow laws still in force in the United States. It is well-documented that the purpose of California's CCW law was to keep legal residents of Latin origin from being able to defend themselves, and it dates from an era when Latino students were segregated in schools as a matter of policy.

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