CGF to San Bernardino Sheriff: 'Fix Your Handgun License Policy'
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The Calguns Foundation gives San Bernardino County, California, Sheriff John McMahon thirty days to correct his handgun carry license application practices.
ROSEVILLE, CA / September 11, 2014 – Earlier today, The Calguns Foundation sent San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon a letter demanding that he revise the Sheriff-Coroner Department's handgun carry license policies.
[caption id="attachment_2306" align="alignleft" width="240"] The Calguns Foundation gave San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon thirty days to correct handgun carry license policies and practices that, they say, violate the law and Constitution.[/caption]
In reviewing recent filings for the federal civil rights lawsuit of Birdt v. San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, "it was apparent that the Sheriff has a lot of work to do" in order to comply with the law, noted the Foundation's Executive Director, Brandon Combs.
"Once again, we see a jurisdiction's highest law enforcement officer thumb their nose at fundamental Constitutional rights and the California Legislature," he added. "It's sad to think that this really just boils down to the Sheriff's blatant distrust of his own constituents and a lack of respect for fundamental civil rights."
But the issues go deeper than differences of opinion, Combs says. He pointed to one part of the federal magistrate judge's recommendation, in which the Court found that
"[Birdt's] application file also reveals that an incident occurred on January 29, 2013 when he came into the Sheriff’s office and tried to file a form from the California Department of Justice website which he demanded to leave at the counter without all the required documentation. He was told that when he had all the correct documentation he should call the number in the Sheriff’s packet for an interview date. The Sheriff’s office does not accept applications without an appointment. He left the office 'irate.' Birdt subsequently sent a January 29, 2013 letter with his application and a check but the Sheriff’s office does not accept applications by mail nor does it accept checks. The background investigation report concludes, 'Birdt not only have an aggressive defiant behavior...he failed to follow directions.'"
While the County's claim that Birdt was "irate" has yet to be proven in court, it simply doesn't matter, said the Foundation in its letter. "Given the facts of [the sheriff's] policies and practices as detailed in the proposed order, an applicant would reasonably become frustrated that their rights are being denied through improper administrative roadblocks...To the extent that Mr. Birdt expressed his displeasure about such policies and practices (without violating the law, such as by interfering with the duties of a peace officer), it seems to us that such conduct would be rationally expected and protected under the First Amendment."
"If some government official was jerking me around like Sheriff McMahon and his staff apparently did to Birdt, I'd be a bit 'irate,' myself," quipped Combs.
The Foundation asked that the sheriff correct the disputed policies and practices within 30 days, noting that its legal counsel is "ready and willing to assist [the sheriff]" in the efforts and that it would prefer to avoid litigation, if possible.
"We're cautiously optimistic that Sheriff McMahon will take the high road and save his county's taxpayers from the costs of fighting about these issues in court," Combs said, "but if he doesn't, that's exactly what we're prepared to do next month."
A copy of the Foundation's letter can be viewed at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/2014/09/cgf-to-san-bernardino-sheriff-fix-your-handgun-license-policy.
Law-abiding San Bernardino County residents who wish to apply for a handgun carry license may volunteer to report their experiences to Calguns at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/get-help/california-carry-license-ltc-ccw-issue-reporting.
Gun owners who wish to support carry license compliance efforts and related litigation can make a tax-deductible donation to The Calguns Foundation at http://old.calgunsfoundation.org/donate.
The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) 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.