A■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
ssemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, introduced legislation last month, AB 757, to reaffirm an individual’s right to bear arms by clarifying the process of obtaining a concealed carry weapon permit.
“It is our Constitutional right to defend ourselves,” said Melendez. “Californians should not be subjugated to the personal beliefs of one individual who doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment. If a citizen passes the background check and completes the necessary safety training requirements, there should be no reason to deny them a CCW.”
Assembly Bill 757 clarifies that self-defense is an acceptable justification for “good cause” for the purposes of obtaining a concealed carry permit.
Under current law, a county sheriff or police chief has the sole discretion on the issuance of concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits. However, in many counties across California, even if an applicant clears the onerous requirements for gun ownership in this state, they are still denied their right to obtain a CCW by the county sheriff or police chief.
These denials are based on an undefined “good cause” requirement for obtaining a CCW. Currently, most law enforcement authorities do not see self-defense as an acceptable reason for “good cause” for obtaining a CCW. By defining “good cause,” AB 757 will make issuing CCWs uniform throughout the state, and ensure equal protection under the law when it comes to exercising one’s Second Amendment right.
“Equal protection under the law applies to more than just illegal immigrants and liberal college students,” Melendez said. “The Constitution enumerates the right to own a gun; it is not a privilege only to be granted to a select few.”
More than 40 states have passed similar laws.
“Our current system of issuing concealed carry permits is not equal. It comes down to being lucky enough to live in a county where the Sheriff believes in upholding the Second Amendment,” Melendez said.
Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff suggested, at the recent Women Armed and Ready meeting in Hemet, that anyone with good moral character and no felonies on their record should apply for a CCW.
“The right to bear arms is the right of every American citizen,” he said. However, going further, he reminded us that California’s Open Carry Law (the right to bear arms in public) was abolished in 2011, California being the fifth state to do so.
“A concealed weapon permit does not mean that you are arming yourself to go out and shoot up the place. That rarely happens anywhere. However,” he continued, “there are many reasons one would have a need to carry a concealed weapon.”
He cited numerous examples, such as having to work late and carry cash from work, you have had credible threats or are an elderly citizen who finds him or herself in a threatening situation.
“Our office handles such requests and we have more than 2,000 applications waiting for consideration.”
Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez represents the Assembly District 67, which includes Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar and a portion of Hemet. It also includes the Riverside County unincorporated areas of Lake Mathews, Good Hope, Nuevo, and Winchester. Follow her on Twitter: @asmMelendez