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California: NRA/CRPAF Legal Action Wins Court Order Forcing LAPD to Make CCW Policies Available at Stations and on LAPD Website

Friday, June 10, 2011

On Thursday, June 9, 2011, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green granted a motion in the NRA and CRPA Foundation financed case against the City of Los Angeles regarding the LAPD’s concealed weapons permit (CCW) processing and issuance policies. The motion was brought to force LAPD to comply with a 16-year-old Consent Judgment from the 1995 Assenza v. City of Los Angeles case. For years, LAPD has repeatedly sought to avoid its obligations under the judgment and to keep people in the dark about what it takes to get a CCW in the City of L.A.

The City unsuccessfully opposed the motion.

Under Penal Code § 12050, the 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 CCW applications available, never finding good cause to exist, and effectively prohibiting the issuance of any CCWs. The City’s unlawful refusal to properly process CCW applications and issue CCWs was challenged in two lawsuits in 1992 and 1994.  To settle the suits the LAPD agreed to be bound by a Judgment requiring that all citizens who request a CCW permit application could get one at any LAPD station house, that the application would be accompanied by a written copy of the LAPD’s procedure for handling the application, including the factors used to determine whether an applicant has ”good cause” for the CCW, and that applicants would be informed of the procedures for appealing the denial of a CCW application. The settlement also established 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 application.

The LAPD has repeatedly failed to honor its legal obligations under the Judgment. The LAPD stopped making CCW 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 CCWs, despite whatever showing of good cause the applicants might make.

The motion heard on Thursday sought, among other things, to force the LAPD to make CCW applications and copies of its written policy available at each station house as the judgment requires. To support the motion, NRA grassroots activists were recruited to investigate the LAPD’s CCW practices. They were frustrated by uncooperative officers at individual LAPD station houses.  The officers had no understanding of the LAPD's application process and, in almost all instances, could not provide a CCW application to the requesting citizen, much less a copy of the LAPD’s written court ordered policy. LAPD officers bluntly told citizens that unless they were celebrities, they shouldn't even bother filling out the CCW application because they would be denied a CCW as a matter of LAPD policy. These NRA activist witnesses signed declarations about their frustrated attempts to get CCW applications, which were submitted with the motion to force LAPD to comply with the 16-year-old Judgment.

In granting the motion and ruling against the city, the Court ordered the City to provide contact information for CCW applicants to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, to get sworn declarations signed under penalty of perjury from every Commanding Officer at each of the LAPD’s 21 station houses and precincts confirming their compliance with the terms of the Assenza judgment and indicating what affirmative steps were taken to ensure compliance, and to prominently post a CCW link on the LAPD website so the public can easily access both the CCW application and the LAPD CCW policy. LAPD must comply with this Order by Wednesday, September 7, 2011.

A memorandum discussing the suits and their history is posted here.

So in a city with almost 4 million citizens, with some 300 CCW applications being made per year, LAPD has only granted 24 active CCWs. 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 CCWs despite meeting the “good cause” criteria for receiving CCWs that the LAPD was forced to agree to years ago.

To rectify this situation, two new legal actions are being pursued. The first is the motion to enforce Judgment in the Assenza v. City of Los Angeles case discussed above.

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 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.

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