Second Amendment advocates put Riverside County’s handgun carry license policy in their crosshairs.
(June 24, 2014) – Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff may have recently won re-election, but he’s not out of the woods yet, two gun rights groups say. The Calguns Foundation (CGF) and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL) have announced the kickoff of their ‘#FixRiverside’ initiative, which aims to compel the sheriff to begin issuing handgun carry permits to all residents who apply for one and pass a background check.
Currently, the sheriff only issues “CCW” licenses to those who demonstrate a “heightened” good cause, with “[c]onvincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his/her spouse, or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources.”
In a June 11 letter penned by Temecula-based gun rights lawyer Jason Davis, Sheriff Sniff was put on notice that his handgun carry license “policy and practices, both written and as-applied, appear to be the same...as the one struck down” recently by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He went on to demand numerous public records from the sheriff’s department, including 15 different categories of documents and “good cause statements,” in order to “research and evaluate [the sheriff’s] policies and practices relating to applications and licenses to carry handguns under Cal. Penal Code § 26150, et seq. for statutory and Constitutional compliance.”
“Sheriff Sniff appears to have violated the civil rights of his constituents the entire time he’s been in office,” said Brandon Combs, the FixRiverside initiative spokesperson and an officer of both CGF and CAL-FFL. “It’s long past time that he learned how to read and follow the Constitution.”
Interestingly, the advocacy groups aren’t going it alone. Joining the #FixRiverside coalition is Chad Bianco, Sniff’s former challenger and a current Lieutenant in the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
“The promise I made, that I would fight for your rights, remains true today in spite of the outcome of our recent election,” Bianco said in a written statement released this morning. “That’s why I’m renewing my pledge to build a better tomorrow and asking for your help today.”
He went on to urge his supporters, “Do your rights a favor and pass this urgent message along to all of your pro-gun family and friends in Riverside County.”
According to information collected in a December 2013 audit of California Department of Justice carry license statistics, Riverside County issued fewer than 800 active “civilian” handgun licenses. That just shows how bad the sheriff’s policies really are, say the groups.
“Given the sheer size of the county’s population, even conservative estimates put the sheriff at a woefully-low issuance rate,” explained Combs. “Sheriff Sniff’s carry license program simply doesn’t pass the smell test.”
But the efforts to make Riverside a “shall issue” county will need more than well wishes, Combs reminded. “As infuriating as it is, we’re probably going to have to take the sheriff to court in order to make sure Riverside residents can exercise their rights. Lawsuits like that are not cheap.”
Residents of the county who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry handguns for self-defense can support the initiative at FixRiverside.org.
The Calguns Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to defend and advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.
California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees is the Golden State’s most tenacious advocacy group for Second Amendment and related rights. CAL-FFL’s thousands of members include gun owners, collectors, training professionals, shooting ranges, dealers, manufacturers, and others who participate in the firearms ecosystem.