CGF and Carry in California: Sunshine Initiative Update (Part 2)

While we work to resolve the national question of the scope of the right to bear arms in public, the Initiative’s Compliance component would further go to address as much as possible in the 58 sheriffs’ carry license programs (from pre-application to issuance) so that, as soon as we did have a final decision from the Supremes (or a victory in the Ninth Circuit), people could apply en masse and would, it was hoped, not be stuck dealing with unlawful and burdensome local rules.
The Sunshine aspect of the Initiative had a two-part role: (1) it made the as-applied policies of all 58 sheriffs collectively exposed for the first time in history - telegraphing that Californians were very much interested in their rights, and (2) offering valuable insight to applicants and prospective applicants on “good cause” statements.
Since the Initiative took off in 2010, it has directly and positively affected carry throughout California in a number of ways. CGF v. Ventura County and Sheriff Bob Brooks was a lawsuit we filed - and won - when Sheriff Brooks refused to allow us access to public carry license records that we needed to show his actual practices, i.e., who was he giving carry licenses to and what “good causes” were acceptable? Through that lawsuit, we acquired and published the county’s records and sent a message to the other counties: show us, or we’ll have a judge make you show us.
Following that, CGF worked with newly-elected Ventura Sheriff Geoff Dean to install a completely-revamped policy largely based on CGF’s Model Carry License policy - the first and, to this day, only policy that both carefully adheres to state law and respects Constitutional doctrines on civil rights.
We also worked with San Mateo County to bring their policies and procedures into general compliance, while, like Ventura, they too retained discretion with respect to ‘good cause’ and ‘good moral character’ standards.
After investigating then-San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey’s carry license program (or, rather, his total lack of one, save for the single license he issued to his own lawyer), CGF not only exposed the corruption of the system but forced San Francisco to adopt a carry license policy for the first time in its history. The policy, while terrible, is at least something that we and others can challenge as various cases resolve and precedence builds.
In Stanislaus County, we successfully compelled (with an assist from the Madison Society) the sheriff’s office to stop enforcing an unconstitutional policy and to revisit many of their local rules, a number of which were clearly violative of state law.
In Merced County, we litigated a number of Sheriff Pazin’s carry license policies and practices, forcing the County to adopt a much more compliant policy - more news on this will be published very soon.
In Shasta County, CGF worked with Sheriff Bosenko to update his office’s policies following the enactment of SB 610. These revised policies and procedures are in the Sheriff’s hands and, last we heard, were waiting on final approval before being officially put into place.
In Los Angeles County, we’re litigating against Sheriff Baca over his policy of making applicants first apply to their police chief - costing applicants additional money and time - before being allowed to apply to his office. We think such a rule is not only unconstitutional but against his statutory duties, so we want to make sure that Los Angeles, and any other county that might be looking to Los Angeles as a beacon, is taught a lesson and brought back into compliance with the law. We’re also preparing a related new effort in Los Angeles county that has to do with rights under the California state constitution.
CGF is presently working with a diverse selection of counties to improve their policies in advance of a second amendment “bear” decision, compiling the 2012 statewide audit based on CA DOJ data, and preparing its next wave of lawsuits, including a unique challenge to reduce the waiting times for new applicants (in some counties this can exceed 12 months before applicants can even apply).
Since our Initiative commenced, we’ve assisted countless applicants in counties across the state; some have been outright successful and are carrying today, and some have become plaintiffs (or plaintiffs in waiting). Importantly, helpful information like the Carry License Application Guide - the only one of its kind in California - has made it into the hands of thousands of Californians. Similarly, CGF has sent all 58 sheriffs updates on carry license laws and copies of our Model Policy.
We expect to continue our existing progress and expect to accelerate the changes we’re creating once the Supreme Court grants cert in a carry case and then beyond an opinion recognizing that the law abiding have a right to bear arms in public.

CGF and Carry in California (Part 1)

Calguns Foundation, with our partner SAF, filed the first post-Heller “right to carry” lawsuit in the nation on May 5, 2009, 15 days after the first Nordyke v. King panel decision incorporated the Second Amendment. The case against the sheriffs of Sacramento and Yolo Counties was originally known as Sykes v. McGinness.
We moved quickly on carry after we read the Heller decision, as we found it surprisingly supportive of the right to bear arms. The board members, partners, and volunteers of CGF made the strategic decision to prioritize the right to carry as the next most critical step in securing the right to keep and bear arms. Incorporation felt like a foregone conclusion that would resolve in due course and thus the first Nordyke panel opinion gave us a chance to move more quickly on a carry case. Time was and remains of the essence due to the political realities of potential new Supreme Court Justice appointments.
We prioritized carry because it is most critical to the safety of our members and has the most potent ability to widen and strengthen the American investment in the right to arms. It's one thing to argue about what you can or can't do when you're not currently doing it, it's another for the government to try to take licenses away from those who have them and have gotten used to exercising them day to day. Many in the Second Amendment community thought we were rash or wrong to so quickly attempt to solidify the right to carry - so bold as to potentially take the most important social issue on immediately. But while reasonable people can disagree, we were confident that first, you can not win battles you do not fight, and second, criminals would raise these issues immediately regardless of what we did.
Lately, and for various reasons, some are criticizing CGF as “a failure” regarding the right to carry. We find that statement amusing and uninformed and hope to dispel some disinformation as well as educate everyone on what we've accomplished and where we’re all going.
The Nordyke opinion was vacated, taken en-banc and then stayed for McDonald v City of Chicago. The district court judge in Sykes stayed our case for Nordyke on September 1, 2009. We knew that meant that the case would be paused until at least late June 2010 as that's when the opinion in McDonald would be issued. At the same time we were getting mixed messages from then Sheriff McGinness and Sacramento County counsel. Also, now that we had time, we wanted to add a recent license denial to our plaintiffs to avoid certain non-substantive arguments from the other side when the case resumed.
We asked two trusted volunteers to apply in late February 2010 using a good cause statement of "I wish to carry a firearm for self defense and the defense of my family." Sheriff McGinness’ official policy that dated from 2007 and was still in effect in early 2010 stated, “[t]he mere fear of victimization, or desire to carry a firearm, shall be insufficient” “good cause” to issue a gun carry permit," and that “[w]hat may be good cause in one area of the county may not be in another area.” Further, his policy required a one year minimum residency in Sacramento county before issuing a license.
On April 10, 2010 Sheriff McGinness updated his policy to remove some of the issues we had challenged in Sykes. The first of our volunteers (who were not very difficult for the Sheriff's office to guess were related to CGF and that was part of our intent) received his carry license in the first week of May, 2010. We then sent another wave of volunteers through and they promptly received their carry licenses as well.
On June 28, 2010, the McDonald decision was issued that incorporated the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
Settlement discussions began the month after McDonald with Sacramento and we quietly spread the word to Ms. Sykes, the other Sacramento plaintiffs, and additional volunteers and members to go ahead and get their carry licenses.
However, we had some specific required changes to their policy document before we would allow Sacramento County out of the case. On approximately October 18, 2010, the policy document posted online was changed to have the following negotiated language at the top of it: "[s]elf-defense may be considered good cause for the issuance of a permit, however, each application is unique and the Sheriff retains the ability to deny permit applications where it appears that doing so is in the interest of public safety." That language remains at the top of Sacramento County’s policy document to this day.
On October 22, 2010, we filed a motion to amend our complaint and said this about our agreement with Sacramento County:
The Court ordered that this action be held in abeyance for sixty days following the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010), which was handed down on June 28, 2010. During this period, Plaintiffs and Defendants Sacramento County and McGinness were able to resolve their dispute. An appropriate stipulation of dismissal covering the dispute with the Sacramento defendants is filed separately.
From that time forward our case was restyled Richards v. Prieto and continued against Yolo County and the Yolo County Sheriff.
While settlement conversations were underway we had our volunteers reach out and address some of Sacramento's other, more tactical policy issues, including a vestigial requirement that limited licensed carry within 1000' of a school. By letter on October 5, 2010, that policy was removed from existing and new licenses. We also had volunteers communicating with both leading sheriff candidates to make sure they would honor the agreement we had made with Sheriff McGinnis.
On November 2, 2010, Scott Jones was elected the new sheriff of Sacramento County.
Since then, Sacramento County has been issuing about 1100 new licenses per year to all residents throughout Sacramento County.

CA gun rights groups The Calguns Foundation, Cal-FFL send letter to Capitola City Council on proposed gun control ordinance

Today, attorney Jason Davis of Orange County-based law firm Davis & Associates sent a letter to the City of Capitola on behalf of second amendment rights groups The Calguns Foundation and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.  The letter, shown below, opposes the City's proposed gun control ordinance scheduled for hearing during the February 28, 2013, City Council meeting.


CGF, Cal-FFL letter to City of Capitola 2/18/13 re proposed gun control ordinance by Brandon Combs
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CGF, SAF, CAL-FFL Sue County of Alameda for Violation of Civil Rights

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The County of Alameda’s zoning law requiring that gun stores be located 500 feet away from residential properties is not rational and cannot withstand any form of constitutional scrutiny, argues a new federal civil rights lawsuit filed yesterday in San Francisco, California.  Businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gary Gamaza are joined by the Second Amendment Foundation, The Calguns Foundation, and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees as plaintiffs in the case. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason Davis of Rancho Santa Margarita.
The complaint describes how plaintiffs Teixeira, Nobriga, and Gamza had actually been granted a Conditional Use Permit and variance for the property on which they intended to open a gun store until the variance was revoked by the Alameda Board of Supervisors.  “John, Steve, and Gary did everything right. They had their paperwork in order,” said attorney Donald Kilmer.  “Their store was moving forward, things were going great, and then they were blindsided by the County long after putting money, labor, and time into opening their store.  That’s a serious due process problem for the County.”
“The facts in this case are outrageous,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “In the fall of 2010, Gamaza, Nobriga, and Teixeira formed a business partnership with the intention of opening a gun store in Alameda County. When they began the process of getting permits to open their shop, they were advised of a requirement that gun stores not be located within 500 feet of any school, liquor store or residence.
“After carefully measuring distances between the shop’s front door and the front door of the nearest property,” he continued, “they found that they were well beyond the 500-foot limit. But then the county changed the measurement requirements.”
The City of Sunnyvale recently conducted a study that showed gun stores had no correlation with area crime.  “The right to buy firearms is just as much a protected part of the Second Amendment as the right to buy books is protected under the First Amendment,” said Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman. “Just like we saw in the Nordyke case, Alameda County continues it's long-running effort to undermine the fundamental civil rights of it's citizens to purchase firearms that they have a right to buy.”
According to the lawsuit, the county allowed an objection to the businessmen’s permit to be filed even though the deadline had passed for such objections and the West County Board of Zoning Adjustments had voted to approve a conditional use permit and allow the gun store to operate.  “The outcome of this lawsuit may very well have far-reaching implications for firearms dealers not just in California, but across the United States,” noted co-counsel Jason Davis.  “Hopefully we can address these issues for dealers once and for all.”
“Alameda County has a long track record of denying Second Amendment Rights to its residents, even those enumerated in our Constitution,” explained Cal-FFL president Brandon Combs.  “We’ve seen over and over again how local rules like those Alameda County adopted are sold to municipalities by anti-gun extremist groups like New York Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence, Brady Campaign, and other Joyce Foundation-funded spinoffs.”
“They want to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution, but that’s simply not going to happen on our watch.  We will make sure Americans have a neighborhood gun dealer to sell them the tools they need to defend themselves from violent attackers.”
The case is captioned as Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda, et al. The docket and filings as they become available can be viewed at
The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
The Calguns Foundation ( is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which serves its members by providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation, and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper or malicious prosecution. The Calguns Foundation seeks to inform government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own, and lawfully use firearms in California.
California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees ( is California's premier non-profit industry association of, by, and for firearms manufacturers, dealers, collectors, training professionals, shooting ranges, and others, advancing the interests of its members and the general public through strategic litigation, legislative efforts, and education. For more information or to join Cal-FFL, please visit
SAF: Alan Gottlieb
425-454-7012 – [email protected]
CGF: Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015 - [email protected]
Cal-FFL: Brandon Combs
888-541-3040 - [email protected]

Alameda County Runs Away From Nordyke Case, Concedes

San Carlos, CA (June 4, 2012) – In an astonishing eleventh-hour about-face, the County of Alameda’s “sweeping concessions” in open court to allow gun shows at the Alameda County Fairgrounds was accepted by the Ninth Circuit in its opinion for Nordyke v. King, released on Friday.
As was noted in a concurring opinion by Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, the County’s representation at oral arguments that Plaintiffs could, in fact, now hold gun shows at the Fairgrounds, “change the game.”
“While it’s certainly fantastic that the Nordykes are once again able to have gun shows on Alameda County property, it’s clear to us that the County was willing to stop at nothing to dodge the Second Amendment bullet,” explained Calguns Foundation chairman Gene Hoffman.
“The Calguns Foundation is eager to see gun shows – long standing in our history and protected under the Constitution - at suitable public venues across the state of California. We stand ready to ensure that the rights of gun owners to gather and trade in self-defense arms are respected in every locale. California state law already severely regulates gun shows and these additional local requirements are solely an attempt to go beyond regulation into prohibition.”
The Calguns Foundation ( is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which serves its members by providing Second Amendment-related education, strategic litigation, and the defense of innocent California gun owners from improper or malicious prosecution. The Calguns Foundation seeks to inform government and protect the rights of individuals to acquire, own, and lawfully use firearms in California.
Gene Hoffman
650-275-1015 [email protected]