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Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Los Angeles Revises Concealed-Weapons Policy

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted 4-0 last Tuesday, June 29, 1993 – two days before newly elected mayor Richard Riordan took office – to turn over the authority for issuing concealed-carry weapons licenses to the Chief of Police, and to adopt new CCW guidelines currently being written by LA City Attorney Byron Boeckman.

Okay, what’s the big deal in that?

In 1974, when Tom Bradley was elected mayor of Los Angeles, he appointed a new police commission and told them he didn’t want the City of Los Angeles issuing CCW licenses any more. The police commissioners, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor, complied by revoking the authority of the chief of police to issue CCW licenses, and took that authority upon itself. From 1974 until the present, the commission’s board policy made obtaining CCW licenses all but impossible; for the 19 years this policy was in effect, the commissioners only once granted a license to carry – and that was in 1992, to their new Chief of Police, Willie Williams, who had not yet passed his qualifying exams as a California police officer, and was therefore not entitled to carry a gun.

But during that period, the Los Angeles Police Department gun detail accepted applications, forwarded them to an officer who always found insufficient reason to recommend that it be granted, and after a hearing before the police commissioners, they voted to turn the application down, regardless of how much danger there was to the applicant.

If there was someone the commissioners actually wanted to have a CCW license, they quietly called up Ted Cooke, Chief of Police of nearby Culver City – and so pro-gun he’s part owner of the Beverly Hills Gun Club – and asked him to grant the license. Or they phoned LA County Sheriff Sherman Block who was sometimes willing to sign on the dotted line.

Adding insult to injury, Commissioner Michael Yamaki secretly slipped over to Culver City (he wasn’t a resident) and got a CCW license for himself. So much for their official opinion 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.”

Meanwhile, a quarter of the gun owners polled by the Los Angeles Times just before the April, 1992 riots admitted to carrying illegally on occasion, and when Los Angeles gun owners got caught, were subjected to a misdemeanor conviction carrying a six-month sentence which deprived them of the right to own a gun entirely, as a condition of probation or parole.

After the LA riots, when thousands of Angelenos who’d been anti-gun changed their minds, it seemed a good time to try ending this impertinence. With firearms-activist, constitutional lawyer, and criminology professor Don Kates as attorney, and a prominent list of obviously-deserving plaintiffs, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Congress of Racial Equality – later joined by NRA – filed suit against the City of Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners for violating the state laws which required them to use their discretion in issuing CCW licenses. Saying “no” to everybody doesn’t qualify as discretion, in previous California legal decisions.

City Attorney Boeckman advised his clients, the Board of Police Commissioners, that they were going to lose the suit, which would have placed the issuance of CCW licenses under court supervision, aside from costing the city a bundle in legal costs defending the suit.

The June 29th vote was a vote to settle. The terms are that if Los Angeles brings itself into compliance with state law and begins issuing licenses to the satisfaction of the plaintiffs, the law suit will be dropped in six months’ time.

The new guidelines – proposed by Don Kates, and now being reviewed by Boeckman and Chief Williams – should be in place by around the middle of July.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is How I (and 4 Million Friends) Successfully Fought City Hall

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
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