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Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
The Case for a Concealed Weapon’s License in Los Angeles

A Refutation of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners’ Policy Concerning Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons

I originally wrote this immediately after the April, 1992 Los Angeles riots as my personal case to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners for a license to carry concealed weapons. Later, I updated it and eliminated arguments applicable only to myself personally, so it could be used by other applicants. I have edited it for the current book to eliminate some duplication of arguments found elsewhere in it. – JNS

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners takes the position that the private citizen can be adequately protected on the streets of Los Angeles without the need for carrying firearms for personal protection. This position is reflected in the Board Policy Concerning Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons, which reads as follows:

By operation of California law, Penal Code Section 12050, the Board of Police Commissioners has the discretionary authority to issue a license to carry a concealed weapon to a resident of the county provided that the person is of good moral character and that good cause exists for issuance of the license.

However, experience has revealed that concealed firearms carried for protection not only provide a false sense of security but further that the licensee is often a victim of his own weapon or the subject of a civil or criminal case stemming from an improper use of the weapon.

It is the Board’s considered judgment that utilization of standard commercial security practices furnishes a security which is both more safe and more sure than that which obtains from the carrying of a concealed weapon.

For these reasons, considering the dangers to society resulting from possession and use of concealed weapons, it is the policy of this Board that ‘good cause’ for the issuance of any concealed weapons license would exist only in the most extreme and aggravated circumstances.

First, I will argue that the Board’s policy regarding what constitutes “good cause” under PC 12050 is based on a set of incorrect facts and assumptions in general; and in specific, that the Board’s prior requirements regarding “good cause” are further inapplicable following the riots, murders, lootings, and torchings following the Rodney King beating verdict;

Second, I will demonstrate that the Board’s policy proceeds on a misunderstanding of the discretion regarding “good cause” that the Board is allowed under PC 12050, as that law must be interpreted according to the California Constitution; and

Third, I will demonstrate that for the average person there are no reasonable alternatives to firearms for defense.

I. Good Cause

In satisfying my first argument, let me analyze the Board Policy in detail.

A. The Board Policy states, “However, experience has revealed that concealed firearms carried for protection not only provide a false sense of security but further that the licensee is often a victim of his own weapon or the subject of a civil or criminal case stemming from an improper use of the weapon.”

The first statement is that concealed firearms carried for protection provide a “false sense of security.”

The studies by Gary Kleck, Ph.D. [detailed throughout this book – JNS] document the frequency with which firearms are used in defense by the civilian population.

The Board’s position can additionally be refuted by reference to three incidents involving individuals I have personally interviewed where concealed firearms carried for protection have provided real protection, rather than a false sense of security.

The first case is that of Montebello, CA Reserve Police Officer Justin Feffer. After changing to plainclothes and going off-duty, in a 1991 incident, Officer Feffer drove to his home in Los Angeles County when he was attacked by a gang of “follow-home” robbers who did not know that he was a police officer and was carrying a concealed .45 caliber semi-auto pistol. Officer Feffer was confronted by the robbers, and successfully defended himself against them by drawing his weapon and firing at them, fatally wounding one of the attackers, and driving the others away. I have interviewed Officer Feffer, and it is his judgment that his police training gave him no special advantage over any private citizen who is trained in the use of firearms, in the circumstances of defending himself against attack.

The second case is that of Thomas Glenn Terry. [See A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About. – JNS]

The third case took place at midnight on Friday, September 18th, 1992. [See Gunfight at the 4 ‘n 20 Pie Shop.- JNS]

Numerous other examples of successful use of a firearm in self-defense have been compiled by the National Rifle Association, drawn from published newspaper accounts, and republished in the NRA’s “Armed Citizen” column in American Rifleman and American Hunter. Since 1977, the “Armed Citizen” column has begun with the following statement, which is verified by the thousands of accounts that column has published, “Mere presence of a firearm, without a shot being fired, prevents crime in many instances as shown by news reports sent in to The Armed Citizen. Shooting usually can be justified only where crime constitutes an immediate, imminent threat to life or limb, or in some circumstances, property. The accounts are from clippings sent in by NRA members. Anyone is free to quote or reproduce them.” Many of these accounts have also been republished in the book The Armed Citizen, edited by Joseph B. Roberts, Jr.

Finally, in sworn testimony to a legislative committee of the Texas legislature, Dr. Suzanna Gratia, a survivor of the restaurant massacre of 23 people in Killeen, Texas on October 16, 1991, who lost both of her parents in that massacre (as reported by the San Antonio Express-News of Feb. 13, 1992) said, “I’m not saying that I could have stopped this guy, but I would have had a chance.” According to the Express-News, Dr. Gratia had left her gun in her car because it was a crime to carry it in her purse and she didn’t want to be arrested. “The point of this is,” Dr. Gratia said, “someone legislated me out of the right to protect myself and my loved ones.”

B. The second claim in the Board Policy “that the licensee is often a victim of his own weapon or the subject of a civil or criminal case stemming from an improper use of the weapon,” is likewise false.

[The Kleck study provides the first refutation.- JNS]

Since the City of Los Angeles has not issued a license to carry a concealed firearm since 1974, it is impossible to provide current statistics for Los Angeles, beyond the clear statement that with no licenses available, there has been no possible licensed use of concealed firearms by private citizens, proper or improper. Similarly, since so few licenses are issued by other similar-sized municipalities in California — Santa Monica has also issued no licenses for over 25 years, and the County of Los Angeles currently has fewer than 400 licenses out — one must go to another populous state for a sizable database, which disproves the Board’s claim.

For the past five years, Florida has had a liberal policy on issuing concealed-carry-weapons permits: a citizen who can pass a background check and prove competency in firearms safety and usage, can get a license.

According to the Division of Licensing, Florida Department of State, out of 133,852 applications received between October 1, 1987 and July 31, 1992, 476 were denied for criminal history and 93,541 licenses were issued. Revoked for crime after licensure: 84 (9 one hundredths of 1%). Revoked for a crime utilizing a firearm: 17 (2 one hundredths of 1%). Revoked for “other”: 12 (1 one hundredth of 1%). These statistics show that there is no significant danger to the public from the misuse of firearms by holders of concealed-carry weapons permits in Florida, and it would be odd indeed if the Board were to hold that the citizens of Florida are in any sense more prudent or careful than the citizens of California.

C. The Board policy claims that, “It is the Board’s considered judgment that utilization of standard commercial security practices furnishes a security which is both more safe and more sure than that which obtains from the carrying of a concealed weapon. This judgment is in accord with the view of the California Peace Officers Association — expressed formally on two occasions in 1968 and 1973 ‘that all permits to carry concealed weapons by private individuals in the State of California be revoked and that the legislation authorizing the issuance of such permits be repealed.'”

“Standard commercial security practices” are entirely inapplicable and inappropriate to the discussion of individual self-defense, in that (1) it presumes that a private individual has the resources to hire an armed, uniformed guard to provide security to an individual while on the street; (2) such a presumption could only apply to the wealthy businessperson who could afford, or whose company could afford, to provide such protection, and such presumption is discriminatory against all but the wealthy; (3) it presumes that armored vehicles capable of withstanding armed assault are possible or appropriate transportation for private citizens, which is discriminatory against all but the wealthy; and (4) it presumes that any emergency response system which is capable of summoning either police or armed guards is available to a private citizen who is alone on the street, and that even with an available telephone, a private person on the street would be able to evade an attacker in order to call for help, or persuade an attacker to cease attack while the victim calls police for help. All of these assumptions are highly improbable and useless for a realistic discussion of personal defense of the ordinary person against violent attackers.

Regarding the opinion of the California Peace Officers Association from 1968 and 1973, it is not in accord with the views of police officers as collected in a survey conducted in 1991.

In a survey of 25,000 subscribers to Law Enforcement Technology Magazine, the results of which were published in the July/August 1991 issue of that magazine, 92.7% of chiefs, sheriffs, and top police management, 91.1 percent of police middle management, and 94.5% of street officers, responded “Yes” to the question, “Should private citizens use handguns for personal protection?” In addition, 60% of chiefs, sheriffs, and top police management, 68% percent of police middle management, and 73% of street officers, responded “No” to the question, “Do you support a ban on concealed weapons?”

D. The Board’s policy has presumed either that violent criminal attack is infrequent enough that the ordinary person is unlikely to need protection or that in the event of an attack that the ordinary person can safely rely on the emergency response system to summon police quickly enough for effective protection against such an attack.

1. Starting with the general and moving to the more specific, the report of the 4th National Poll of America’s Police Chiefs for the Year 1991, which polled every sheriff and chief of police in the United States, provided the answer that 72.3% of those police personnel polled responded “Yes” to the question, “Would you agree with the statement that because of a lack of police manpower that you can no longer provide the type of service and crime prevention activities that you did ten years ago?”

2. Moving the question specifically to Los Angeles, 64% of Los Angeles residents felt that their city was unsafe, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 1990.

3. Los Angeles has 229 police officers per 100,000 residents – lower than Washington D.C., (658), Detroit (458), Chicago (396), Philadelphia (379), Atlanta (356), Boston (352), New York (351), Dallas (248), or Houston (239), and in 1989 (latest available statistics) had 9,272 crimes per 100,000 residents (sixth in the nation), including 25 homicides per 100,000 (ninth in the nation).

Clearly, Los Angeles residents have had a reason to feel unsafe on the streets. An increase in violent crimes such as follow-home robberies, automobile theft at gunpoint, and crimes where individuals were robbed when auto accidents were staged requiring victims to exit their vehicles to exchange licenses, speaks clearly to that lack of safety, even during “normal” times. The Board’s underlying assumption about the lack of necessity for concealed weapons was questionable even before the riots, looting, and hate crimes following the Rodney King beating trial verdict caused the city to erupt into civil unrest.

After the events following the Rodney King beating trial verdict, there can be no further question. As of May 3, 1992, we saw thousands of buildings either burned or destroyed by looting; we had over 50 deaths, most by gunfire, and several thousand injuries – several hundred of them critical injuries.

It took four nights of city-wide curfews, 5,000 of Los Angeles Police, 2,370 California Highway Patrol, 2,195 outside agency law-enforcement personnel, 7,000 National Guard, 1,000 Federal law-enforcement personnel, and 4,500 U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps troops — an armed force of approximately 22,065 — to pacify the city. But for the first two days of violence, police and National Guard manpower was almost entirely incapable of providing any sort of protection of life or property to the population of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Compton, and other areas of Los Angeles County.

A significant number of the attacks were racially-motivated hate crimes. Matthew Haines of Long Beach, described in a Los Angeles Times report as a “white 32-year-old mechanic,” was, according to the Times, “gunned down after he was stopped by a mob of black men and teenagers as he and his nephew, Scott Coleman, 26, rode Haines’ motorcycle to a friend’s apartment in Long Beach.”

Reginald Denny, a trucker, was pulled from his truck and beaten to within an inch of his life by a mob in South Central Los Angeles. Denny was white, the mob was black — there is no question that it was a hate crime. It was only by the intervention of black good Samaritans that Denny was not killed.

A list of fatalities published by the Los Angeles Times of Sunday, May 3, 1992 (Page A-10), includes the following:

Wednesday:

8:15 PM: Louis Watson, 18, of West 43rd Place was fatally wounded by a gunshot to the head at a bus stop at Vernon and Vermont Avenues.

Moments later: Dwight Taylor, a 42-year-old black man, was fatally shot at 446 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

9:00 PM: Arturo Miranda, 20, of West 120th Street was fatally shot in his car at 120th Street and Central Avenue.

9:26 PM: Edward Travens, a 15-year-old white youth, was killed in a drive-by shooting at San Fernando Road and Workman Street in the San Fernando Valley community of Mission Hills. Coroner’s officials said they had reason to believe it was linked to racial unrest.

10:40 PM: Anthony Netherly, 21, a black man, was fatally shot at 78th and San Pedro Streets.

11:15 PM: Elbert Wilkins, 33, a black man, died at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center after being shot in the back at 92nd Street and Western Avenue.

11:45 PM: Ernest Neal Jr., 27, a black man, died after being shot in the head in the same incident at 92nd Street and Western Avenue.

Thursday:

12:10 AM: Ira McMurry, 45, a white man, was fatally shot at 102nd Street and Avalon Boulevard. McMurry was shot in the head when he tried to stop looters from burning the liquor store next to his house.

12:30 AM: Deandre Harrison, a 17-year-old black youth, was shot at 114th Street and Slauson Avenue and later died at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center.

12:30 PM: An unidentified black man died of gunshot wounds at Rosecrans and Chester Avenues in Compton.

1:30 PM: After flying to Los Angeles to inspect his machine shop, Howard Epstein of Orinda, Calif. was shot to death near 7th and Slauson Avenues and his car was ransacked by looters.

1:35 PM: Jose L. Garcia Jr., 15, died of gunshot wounds at Fresno Street and Atlantic Avenue.

5:00 PM: Patrick Bettan, 30, a white male, died of gunshot wounds suffered at 2740 W. Olympic Boulevard.

5:32 PM: A 49-year-old Latino male was gunned down at 3rd Street and Vermont Avenue.

About 6:30 PM: Matthew Haines fatally shot.

9:37 PM: Eduardo Vela, a 34-year-old Latino male, died of gunshot wounds, suffered at 5142 W. Slauson Avenue.

Time unknown: A man was found shot to death at Willowbrook Avenue and Alondra Boulevard.

Time unknown: A man was shot to death at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rhea Street.

8:21 PM: A 32-year-old male Latino was stabbed to death at 2034 W. Pico Blvd.

Friday:

12:52 AM: A 25-year-old Latino male died of gunshot wounds suffered at Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

1:10 AM: Kevin Evanahen, 24, died while trying to put out a fire at a check-cashing store at Braddock Drive and Inglewood Boulevard.

4:45 PM: Meeker Gibson, 35, a black male, was shot to death at Holt Street and Loranne Avenue in Pomona.

Time unknown: A 19-year-old Latino male was shot to death at 4028 Santa Monica Boulevard.

Time unknown: A black male was shot to death at 614 S. Locust St. in Compton.

Time unknown: A male Latino was brought dead on arrival to County-USC Medical Center with a gunshot wound. The location of the shooting was not known.

1:58 PM: Lucie Maronian, 51, a female Anglo, was stabbed to death on East New York Drive in Altadena. The coroner said sheriff’s investigators considered the case to be riot-related.

Early evening: A 68-year-old white male was strangled at a looting scene at 11690 Gateway St. Coroner’s officials said the man might have been a store proprietor trying to stop looting.

8:19 PM: A 32-year-old black man died of a gunshot wound at Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital.

In Koreatown, merchants unable to get any police protection found themselves, and their firearms, the only thing standing between gangs of arsonists and looters and their stores.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, citizens blocked off neighborhood streets and stood armed guard to prevent looters and arsonists from entering.

Clearly, the ordinary police force available to the City of Los Angeles to provide protection to the public is inadequate to extraordinary times … and we are living in extraordinary times.

II. Board Discretion

I will now demonstrate that the Board’s policy proceeds on a misunderstanding of the discretion regarding “good cause” that the Board is allowed under PC 12050, as that law must be interpreted according to the California Constitution.

Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution reads as follows: “All people are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.” (as amended 7 November 1972.)

The California Constitution, itself, defines “good cause” for the purposes of PC 12050: good cause for carrying a firearm is defined as “defending life and liberty,” “protecting property,” and “pursuing and obtaining safety.” The discretion mandated by PC 12050 to the Board is therefore on the question of “good moral character.”

Further, not only do the people of California have these rights to defend and protect ourselves defined under the California Constitution, but the California Government Code specifically relieves all government entities and employees from any responsibility for protecting the public.

California Government Code, Section 845, states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service.”

Section 846 states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for injury caused by the failure to make an arrest or by the failure to retain an arrested person in custody.”

Section 845.8 states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for (a) Any injury resulting from determining whether to parole or release a prisoner or from determining the terms and conditions of his parole or release or from determining whether to revoke his parole or release. (b) Any injury caused by (1) An escaping or escaped prisoner; (2) An escaping or escaped arrested person; or (3) A person resisting arrest.”

Section 845.2 states, “Except as provided in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 830), neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to provide a prison, jail or penal or correctional facility, or, if such facility is provided, for failure to provide sufficient equipment, personnel, or facilities therein.

Clearly, California law provides no responsibility for the police to provide protection to the public, nor any liability whatsoever for failure to do so and just as clearly, the California Constitution defines the people themselves as the holder of both that right and the resulting responsibility.

III. Alternative Methods Of Defense

My exploration of alternative methods of defense prove them completely inadequate to defense against violent hate crimes or vicious attack.

Here are some of the alternative methods of defense I have looked into:

1. Martial Arts. Martial arts training requires that an individual, to be successful, must be physically fit and trained to such a high degree that one is capable of taking on several opponents at once. Even Los Angeles Police Officers are not professionally trained to that degree, and the martial artist who can be so trained, and maintain such a skill level, is rare. Further, Dr. Keith Kato, a second dan Black Belt in karate with a doctorate in physics, who has written a thesis on the physics of martial arts, has concluded that martial arts are of virtually no use against an attacker armed with a firearm, since the firearm can be successfully fired before the martial artist can come within range to disarm the attacker.

2. Chemical sprays. A chemical spray requires a direct hit on the upper body of an attacker. It must be used at the range of several feet distance, and at that range, an attacker can frequently disarm the victim of the spray before it can be used. Further, even if the spray hits the attacker under optimal conditions, an attacker who is full of adrenaline, or stimulants such as crack cocaine or PCP, or depressants such as alcohol or heroin, may be largely immune to the effects.

3. Stun Guns and Tasers. Stun guns, requiring direct contact between the defender and the attacker, have all the problems of martial arts and chemical sprays. As we saw in the Rodney King beating videotape, even under conditions used by a trained professional such as Sergeant Stacey Koon, a Taser gun will not necessarily be effective in incapacitating the recipient of the Taser darts, and a Taser is a more powerful stun gun than is available to the public.

4. Knives. Knife-fighting is a high art, like martial arts, and unless a knife-fighter is so trained, she or he is more likely to be disarmed or defeated by an attacker than be able to use a knife successfully in a self-defense. Knife-fighting is effective only in close-range hand-to-hand combat, and the outcome of such combat is highly dubious for anyone who is not both in top form and in top physical condition. Further, private citizens are restricted from carrying a knife as a defensive weapon.

IV. Conclusions

We have seen that there is a clear and present danger to the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles from both epidemic daily crime and the extraordinary dangers from criminal attacks in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating trial acquittal.

Further, we have seen that the citizenry cannot rely upon organized law enforcement for protection or defense against such crime; that by law the people have the right to defend themselves; that there is no responsibility under the California Government Code for any public entity to provide protection to the public, and no liability to any public entity or employee for failure to protect the public.

We have strong evidence — both statistical and from case studies — that firearms in the hands of private citizens provide a defense that is superior to available alternatives, and that firearms in the hands of those licensed to carry them after a background check and minimal training represent no statistically significant threat to public order or safety.

No other conclusion can be reached than that the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners’ Policy Concerning Licenses to Carry Concealed Weapons is in error, and that the Chief of Police of the City of Los Angeles, as charged under PC 12050, must immediately resume issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons to citizens of Los Angeles County who can pass a background check showing good moral character.

As subsequent chapters will demonstrate, the Board of Police Commissioners was unable to refute the above arguments, and the Board Policy was revised within two years to ease the granting of licenses to carry concealed firearms by the City of Los Angeles. – JNS

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Remarks to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (Again!)

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Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
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