Through their joint Legal Action Project, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation (CRPA) are sponsoring two new legal actions to enforce a 16-year old court order against the City of Los Angeles over its concealed weapons permit (CCW) issuance policies.
Under Penal Code § 12050, et seq., the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has an obligation to process applications for CCWs, and to issue CCWs if the applicant has “good cause.” For many years, the City and the LAPD had a policy of not making applications available, never finding good cause to exist, and effectively prohibiting the issuance of any CCW permits.
Two lawsuits filed in the 1990’s were supposed to change that. But despite a binding settlement in those suits that resulted in the LAPD being ordered by a court to implement new policies, the LAPD has abandoned these court-ordered policies for handling citizens’ applications for CCW permits, and has fallen back on its old habits.
The City’s unlawful refusal to properly process CCW applications was challenged in two lawsuits in 1992 and 1994. To settle these lawsuits, the LAPD agreed to implement a specific and transparent court-ordered procedure to provide clarity and fairness for citizens applying for CCW permit. The LAPD agreed that all citizens who request a CCW permit application would be provided a CCW application at any LAPD station house, that the application would be accompanied by a written copy of the LAPD’s procedure for handling the application, and the applicants would be informed of the procedures for appealing the denial of a CCW permit application. The settlement also resulted in the establishment of a Citizens Advisory Review Panel, made up of appointed citizens who would review CCW applications denied by the LAPD and make recommendations regarding whether the LAPD should reverse its denial of the CCW permit application.
The LAPD has repeatedly failed to honor its legal obligations under the settlements. The LAPD no longer makes CCW permit applications and a written copy of the CCW policy and appeal process available at all station houses. And the LAPD is ignoring the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Review Panel and has instead enacted a de facto policy of again issuing no CCW permits, despite whatever showing of good cause the applicants might make.
So in a city with almost four million citizens, with some 300 CCW applications being made per year, the LAPD has only granted 24 active CCW permits. Citizens who have had credible and ongoing threats made against them and their families, and those who carry large sums of cash as part of job and are high-profile robbery targets, have been repeatedly denied CCW permits despite meeting the “good cause” criteria for receiving CCW permits that the LAPD was forced to agree to years ago.
To rectify this situation, two new legal actions are being pursued. The first new court action is a motion to enforce the court's old order in the 1994 case, Assenza v. City of Los Angeles. Some of the original plaintiffs from that case seek to force the LAPD to reinstate its agreed-to policy of providing applications and copies of its written policy at all LAPD station houses. In support of its motion, NRA grassroots activist citizens who were recruited to investigate the LAPD’s practices have submitted declarations about their recent attempts to get CCW permit applications. They were frustrated by uncooperative officers at individual stationhouses, all of whom had a complete lack of understanding of the LAPD’s application process, and who in almost all instances could not provide a CCW permit application to the requesting citizen, much less a copy of the LAPD’s written policy. Perhaps most egregiously, LAPD officers bluntly told citizens that unless they were celebrities, they shouldn’t even bother filling out the CCW permit application because they would be denied a CCW permit as a matter of LAPD policy.
The second action is a new lawsuit, Davis v. City of Los Angeles. The nine plaintiffs in this new action, some of whom have had CCW applications pending and unresolved with the LAPD for years, have submitted sworn declarations attesting to a litany of missteps and abuses by the LAPD in its handling of their CCW applications. These abuses include not only the failures to provide applications and copies of the written policies at stationhouses, but refusals to timely consider their applications, failures to respond to inquiries regarding the status of applications, failures to acknowledge the availability of the Citizens Advisory Review Panel as a method of appealing denial, and the failure to give any weight to recommendations by the Citizens Advisory Review Panel.
Second Amendment challenges may be incorporated into these lawsuits as the case law develops in the Ninth Circuit, where another NRA/CRPAF LAP case, Peruta v. San Diego, is currently being heard.
Seventeen years ago the NRA and CRPA joined forces to fight local gun bans being written and pushed in California by the gun ban lobby. Their coordinated efforts became the NRA/CRPA “Local Ordinance Project” (LOP) - a statewide campaign to fight ill conceived local efforts at gun control and educate politicians about available programs that are effective in reducing accidents and violence without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. The NRA/CRPA LOP has had tremendous success in beating back most of these anti-self-defense proposals.
In addition to fighting local gun bans, for decades the NRA has been litigating dozens of cases in California courts to promote the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment. In the post Heller and McDonald legal environment, NRA and CRPA Foundation have formed the NRA/CRPA Foundation Legal Action Project (LAP), a joint venture to pro-actively strike down ill-conceived gun control laws and ordinances and advance the rights of firearms owners, specifically in California. Sometimes, success is more likely when LAP's litigation efforts are kept low profile, so the details of every lawsuit are not always released.
To see a partial list of the LAP’s recent accomplishments, or to contribute to the NRA or to the NRA /CRPAF LAP and support this and similar Second Amendment cases, visit www.NRAILA.com and www.crpafoundation.org.