D.C. Court of Appeals Gets It Right on Unconstitutional Conceal Carry Ban

The residents of Washington, D.C., proper may soon be able to conceal carry given the good news this week. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the enforcement of DC’s existing onerous anti-gun law which criminalizes concealed carry by law-abiding gun owners.

Here’s more context behind the legal battle over gun rights in the nation’s capital:

The city’s law had required gun owners to prove they have a “good reason to fear injury” or another “proper reason,” such as a job that requires carrying large amounts of cash or valuables, in order to get a concealed carry permit. Under the city’s law, living in a high-crime neighborhood was not reason enough to justify approval of a concealed carry permit.

Second Amendment advocates who brought the lawsuit said the city’s law was so restrictive that most law-abiding citizens would be unable to obtain permits. As of June, the Metropolitan Police Department reported having granted just 125 concealed carry permits since the law took effect in 2014.

The city’s strict concealed carry laws have remained in effect while the D.C. Circuit was considering whether to rehear the case, so the ruling marks the first time the “good reason” requirements will be cast aside.

In July, the same court upheld the 2016 ruling that Washington, D.C., must issue handgun licenses to law-abiding D.C. residents in the same fashion that other states issue carry permits too. More specifically, this ruling means that an applicant for a concealed handgun permit (CHP) won’t have to prove a special need or request (may issue) to obtain a CHP. Instead, permits should be issued on a shall-issue basis for adults who pass background checks and successfully complete a gun safety training course.

This derives from a May 2016 ruling in which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard J. Leon issued a 46-page opinion stating the Second Amendment not only applies to owning guns in homes, but also legal carry in the streets via concealed carry–writing that presenting a “good reason” for carrying in the nation’s capital is unconstitutional. The 2008 Supreme Court Case District of Columbia v. Heller affirmed the constitutionality of law-abiding gun owners to keep and bear arms inside their homes. However, D.C. residents are unable to carry outside their homes–leaving many defenseless and vulnerable to attack in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities.

Law-abiding Americans who wish to conceal carry shouldn’t have to prove a “good reason” to do so–especially in one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S.

Washington, D.C. has been famously nicknamed the “murder capital of the U.S.” given its bloody track record.  Neighborhood Scout named it the #30 most murderous city in all of the U.S. in 2017. In 2016, WTOP listed DC as the 10th top murderous city  in all of the U.S. Why don’t city lawmakers see that onerous laws that leave people defenseless only empower gangs and murderous thugs to perpetuate crimes on unsuspecting residents?

In April 2013, a D.C. hate crime victim told NBC Washington the following in response to his assault:

“I’m going to get a license and get a 9mm,” he said. “That’s the truth.”

In the case of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, who just returned to Congress yesterday, had it not been for his bodyguards, him and other lawmakers would likely not be alive today. However, preventing concealed carry or concealed carry reciprocity for D.C. residents to also carry in nearby territories or other states could make shootings like the June 2017–which left Scalise seriously injured–happen again if their Draconian gun laws are not overturned.

Experts say this case will move to the Supreme Court soon. As in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, let’s hope the highest court in the land rules in favor of the constitutionality of concealed carry for law-abiding Americans. This shouldn’t be an issue: gun rights are human rights.

San Francisco Thinks Preventing Imaginary Racism Is More Important Than Solving Crimes

Liberals love to gin up fears of racism. Remember the constant drumbeat of “Islamophobia” from the left after 9/11? Within days of the attack, liberals began wringing their hands over fears of retaliatory attacks against completely innocent Muslims. We see it time and time again, where the left fears reprisals against minorities, and over and over their worst fears don’t come true.

This time, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), San Francisco’s transit authority, has refused to release surveillance footage of robberies that have taken place at BART facilities over the past few months. The reason? BART fears that the footage will foment racism. No joke.

April 22: Forty to sixty kids boarded a train at the Coliseum stop and robbed seven passengers, beating up two;

June 28: A group of four kids assaulted a passenger and made off with a cell phone at Dublin; and

June 30: A woman on a train with about a dozen teenagers had her phone snatched by one them before the group got off at the Coliseum stop. Thankfully, a good Samaritan was on hand to retrieve the phone.

So far, BART has refused to turn over surveillance video for any of these incidents.

A member of BART’s board told a local reporter that she was told the authority will not release the videos out of fear that the footage will create racial fears among ridership. Let that sink in a minute – one of the most liberal enclaves in the country is more concerned about hypothetical racism among its citizens than it is about solving crimes.

But wait: there’s another motivation behind the refusal to make the footage public. Get a load of this:

According to a memo distributed to BART Directors, the agency won’t do a press release on the June 30 theft because it was a “petty crime” that would make BART look “crime ridden.” Furthermore, it would “unfairly affect and characterize riders of color, leading to sweeping generalizations in media reports.”

That’s right, BART is worried about optics. “Crime? What crime? Move along; there’s nothing to see here.” (Oh, and the fears of fake racism are there too.)

A BART spokesman tried to hide behind statues that are supposed to protect juveniles to justify keeping the video under wraps, even though at least one of the perpetrators is 19 years old, but the spokesman added, “even if the faces of juveniles were blurred…watching the videos would be pointless gawking.”

Would any information that leads to the arrest of a group of criminals really be “pointless gawking”? Shouldn’t justice and the safety of BART riders supercede either concerns about racism or whether the system appears to be less than perfectly safe? You’d think the answers to both questions would be “yes,” but this is reliably liberal San Francisco, so the answers that make sense don’t always apply.

 

Crime Big: Law and Order Takes A Powder In California

“All dreams welcome” beckons the visitcalifornia.com website, where the slogan plastered across TV screens in cable ads is “dream big.” It’s a big state, filled with natural wonders. Maybe their new slogan should be “all criminals welcome,” because “crime big.”

The Golden State’s biggest wonder is really how stupid California politicians and officials can be. They clearly haven’t figured out what happens when you stop arresting criminals and simultaneously release those who are already incarcerated before their terms are complete.

Let’s review. California legislators passed AB 109, the California Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011.  They did this in response to perhaps one of the worst SCOTUS decisions in history–paraphrasing the late Justice Scalia and Justice Alito. The case is Brown v. Plata, and the federal court injunction which SCOTUS upheld ordered California to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates.

Chief Justice Roberts summarized the terrible decision this way. “The three-judge court ordered the premature release of approximately 46,000 criminals — the equivalent of three Army divisions.” (Italics his.) “I fear that today’s decision, like prior prisoner-release orders, will lead to a grim roster of victims,” Justice Alito wrote. “I hope that I am wrong. In a few years, we will see.”

Alito was not wrong.

But why does that make California legislators stupid? Because instead of addressing the core problems that resulted in Brown v. Plata, they simply sloughed off state prisoners to counties, who released them. Simultaneously, AB 109 downgraded some drug and property felonies to misdemeanors, which demoralized overworked law enforcement agencies.

Essentially law and order took a powder in California, as you can see from Berkeley police response to “Antifa” rioters conflict with “alt-right” militia and biker gangs–what David French called “The Battle of Berkeley.” Maybe we should build a wall around the Bay Area and remake “Escape from New York” there? But I digress.

The Los Angeles Times reported from 2013-2015, LAPD’s arrest numbers plummeted a jaw-dropping 25 percent.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department also saw significant drops in arrests during that period.

The statewide numbers are just as striking: Police recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 years, according to the California attorney general’s office, with about 1.1 million arrests in 2015 compared with 1.5 million in 2006.

If crime was simply on the decline due to a supernatural revival of goodheartedness in Californians, there’d be nothing to worry about. But, no.

The Public Policy Institute of California, which tracks crime statistics, noted the following:

  • California’s violent crime rate saw an uptick in 2015 (despite a nearly 30-year decline)
  • Property crime rates also rose in 2015
  • Crime increased the most in the San Francisco Bay ares despite large statewide variances
  • Violent crime and property crime increased in a majority of counties (nearly 25 percent and 15 percent respectively in Orange County alone)

When you mix a catch-and-release attitude among lawmakers with a large influx of inmates into the population, the impetus to go the “extra mile” by police is diminished. Fox News quoted Whittier’s police chief, whose department lost officer Keith Boyer in February. Boyer’s killer is suspected to be Michael Meija, a convicted felon who’s been in and out of prison several times in the last six years with four parole violations.

“You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that are raising crime,” complained Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper following the fatal shooting of a member of his force.  “It’s not good for our community and it’s not good for our officers.”

The new attitude among law enforcement officials is “why bother?”

Meanwhile, criminals and crime flourish. Dream big, crime big is the new paradigm on the left coast. We’ll see how liberals like the their utopia when law and order take a powder.

More Guns, Fewer Accidents

 

 

About 20 years ago, criminologist John Lott wrote a book that documented how violent crime decreased in states that passed “shall issue” gun carry permits. Lott’s book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” was a pivotal moment in understanding the harmful effects of gun control laws. The assumption of a positive link between gun control and civic safety was broken. Now, another gun control assumption is being called into question as new data shows that more guns don’t necessarily result in more firearms accidents.

Gun sales have set records several times in recent years. Gun sales as measured by NICS background checks increased after the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and again after his reelection and attempt to impose new gun controls in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

The prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency caused sales to spike even further. Gun sales in 2016 smashed all previous records. At more than 27 million background checks, more than twice as many guns were purchased in 2016 as in 2008.

Liberal dogma would lead one to believe that the vast numbers of new guns in the hands of private citizens would lead to a dramatic increase in rates of violent crime and firearms accidents. Neither assumption is true.

The Washington Examiner reports that a new report by the National Safety Council puts the number of gun-related accidental deaths for 2015, the latest year that statistics are available, at 489. This is the lowest since recordkeeping began and represents a 17 percent drop from 2014.

Gun accidents make up less than one percent of the accidental deaths studied in the report by the nonprofit organization. Guns caused far fewer accidental deaths than automobiles and drug overdoses, which were leading causes of accidental death in various age groups. The odds of accidental gun deaths fell between “pedacyclist incidents” and “air and space transport incidents.”

Likewise, crime rates across the country remain near record lows despite claims by Democrats and President Trump that crime is at critical levels. FBI data from 2014, the most recent year available, shows the US murder rate at its lowest point since 1957.

Some cities did report an uptick in violent crime in 2015, but Politifact notes that the overall trend has been downward. “Snapshots are not trends. And two or three years of data are far too few to establish a trend,” said Richard A. Berk, professor of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

CNN notes that the uptick in violent crime was due to increases in specific cities, such as Chicago, which doesn’t even make USA Today’s list of the most violent cities in the country when crime rates are adjusted for population, although its suburb of Rockford, Ill. does. None of the cities on the list are known for large illegal immigrant populations, making the president’s claims that illegals are driving the uptick in the crime rate problematic.

Chris Eger at Guns.com credits the increase in safety programs with the decline in gun accidents. “The basic gun safety rules as advocated by the National Rifle Association are mentioned at least as far back as Jeff Cooper’s ‘The Complete Book of Modern Handgunning’ in 1961,” he writes. “The gun rights group has also backed their Eddie Eagle GunSafe, which they contend has reached more than 28 million children since 1988.” Eger also gives a nod to the 2005 law that required including gun locks with new gun sales and the distribution of gun locks by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as part of Project Childsafe.

“This latest release from the National Safety Council shows that the vast majority of the 100 million American firearms owners meet the serious responsibilities which come with firearms ownership,” said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “They store their firearms safely and securely when not in use, and follow the basic rules of firearms safety when handling them.”

Perhaps we should question more liberal dogmas.

How Mentally Ill Esteban Santiago Flew His Gun Across the Country… Legally

After Esteban Santiago murdered five people in the Fort Lauderdale airport last week, the obvious question to emerge is how Santiago managed to get a gun through airport security. The question of Santiago’s weapon is two-fold since there are reports that he had shown signs of mental illness as well as the fact that the shooting occurred in an airport, normally considered to be a gun-free zone.

Santiago, an Iraq War veteran who served with the Puerto Rico National Guard, reportedly visited the FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska and complained, according to an FBI spokesman, “that his mind was being controlled by US intelligence agencies. During the interview, Mr. Santiago appeared agitated, incoherent and made disjointed statements. Although, he stated he did not wish to harm anyone, as a result of his erratic behavior, our [FBI] agents contacted local authorities who took custody of Mr. Santiago and transported him a local medical facility for evaluation.”

The spokesman said that Mr. Santiago, who had lived in Alaska for several years and worked there as a security guard and a member of the Alaska National Guard, was not placed on a no-fly list. “During our initial investigation, we found no ties to terrorism. There is currently no indication that Mr. Santiago was working with other individuals when he planned and carried out yesterday’s attack.”

With respect to Santiago’s mental health, a spokesman noted, “There is a federal law with regard to having a gun by somebody who is mentally ill, but the law requires that the person be ‘adjudicated mentally ill,’ which is a difficult standard. This is not someone who would have been prohibited [from owning or possessing a gun] based on the laws that they had. I think that law enforcement acted within the laws that they had. We’re a country of laws and they operated within them.”

There are laws that prevent the mentally ill from possessing guns, but the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and due process must be followed to restrict that right. Federal and Alaska law state that firearms ownership and possession are prohibited if a person has been “adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution.” Neither seems to have applied to Santiago, whose gun was returned after a mental health screening in connection with his statements at the FBI office according to the Anchorage Daily News.

“Unless there was some sort of a court order requiring involuntary commitment for mental health treatment, under existing gun control legislation, he could not be deprived of his constitutional right to possess a weapon,” Paul Callan, former New York homicide prosecutor told CNN. “People who submit to voluntary mental health treatment don’t lose their right to possess firearms under current US law.”

Health care workers are required to notify authorities if they believe a patient may pose a danger to themselves or others. Privacy laws may conflict with this duty to warn, however. With many mass shootings in recent years, the perpetrators have exhibited signs of mental illness before their shooting sprees. Until a law is broken, such as making a threat, people who are mentally ill and potentially dangerous must voluntarily seek treatment.

Since Santiago was not committed or judged to be mentally ill, he had broken no laws and was free to travel. Esteban placed his weapon in a checked bag for his flight to Florida. NBC News reports that the Glock 9mm pistol was in a gun case that was carried in the baggage compartment of the airliners that flew Esteban from Anchorage to Minneapolis and Fort Lauderdale.

According to TSA rules, guns and ammunition are allowed on airliners if they are placed in a checked bag that is hard-sided and kept locked. Passengers cannot carry guns, ammunition or parts of guns such as magazines or clips in the cabin of the airliner. Ammunition can be placed in the same locked container as the gun.

Esteban would have checked his gun case and declared his firearm when he checked in at the airport. He would then have gone through the TSA security screening and traveled unarmed. Baggage claim areas are outside of the secure area of the airport.

Esteban reported left the secure area of the airport and retrieved his gun case at baggage claim upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale. At that point, he took the gun and ammunition out of the case and killed five people.

At this point, it seems that gun laws were followed in the case of Esteban Santiago. The gun was legal, Santiago owned and possessed it legally and he legally transported it across the country.

The failure in Fort Lauderdale seems to the same failure that contributed to so many shootings in the past few years. Law enforcement and the mental health system failed to identify a troubled individual who was in need of treatment. Perhaps instead of calling for more gun control, we should revisit privacy laws that prevent doctors, employers and law enforcement agencies from sharing information about potential killers. Consideration should also be given to reforming commitment laws so that potentially dangerous people can be given treatment without their consent.

Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is not a gun control issue. It is a public safety issue. If mass shootings continue unabated, the left’s outcry for more gun control may lead to sweeping laws like those of New York that restrict all gun ownership, rather than sensible laws that target the real problem.