San Diego Sheriff’s Dept. sued over conceal carry gun permits
Late Friday night court documents were released outlining plaintiffs’ undisputed facts and statements regarding the right of qualified individuals to carry a concealed firearm in San Diego County.
The lawsuit was filed last year is finally making its way through the federal court system and the November 1st trial date sets up a showdown with gun right’s advocates and San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff William Gore and San Diego County.
A list of boiler-plate undisputed facts, filed by plaintiffs, included items like; with few exceptions California prohibits unlicensed individuals from carrying loaded firearms; The only licensed public carrying of loaded firearms is via a “concealed carry” (i.e., with a CCW permit), except in a few sparsely populated counties where one may obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun openly; California law allows for only a Sheriff or Chief of Police to issue a permits to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in public to residents of their jurisdictions or to non-residents who spend a substantial period of time in their principal place of employment or business within that jurisdiction.
Once the attorneys agree on the undisputed facts the courts (or judge) will resolve any remaining undisputed facts between the parties- a fight, which will take place in a federal courtroom.
Among the key challenges facing the County of San Diego and Sheriff Gore will be the alleged preferential treatment for certain residents in the County. The plaintiffs who have had the opportunity to examine public records in the Sheriff’s Department as part of the litigation charge that the county as well as Sheriff Gore freely gives members of the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association CCWs easy access to become licensed to carry firearms.
One of the Plaintiffs Dr. Leslie Buncher’s denial letter from the Sheriff Department read: “The documentation you have provided does not indicate you are a specific target or that you are currently being threatened in any manner. The Sheriff’s Department does not issue CCW’s based on fear alone.”
Buncher and other plaintiffs contend that membership in the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association yielded different results in the CCW application process- all were issued permits.
All Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit sought a CCW from the County for self-defense purposes, but were denied, except in the case of Plaintiffs Laxson and Dodd decided who did not to apply because they were dissuaded at their initial interview with the Sheriff’s Department and were told they didn’t satisfy the requirements of the County’s policy.
Specifically, Mark Cleary describes in a sworn declaration, provided to the court under the penalty of perjury that he went to the Sheriff’s Department on April 8, 2005 to meet with the firearms licensing division and was questioned about his need for a CCW permit. Officials stated the requirements were “very strict” and encouraged Cleary to withdraw his application.
“They told me I could withdraw my application, and if I did not withdraw it, I would have a denial on my record with the Department of Justice,” Cleary explained in his declaration to the court.
However, Cleary’s application to carry a conceal weapon gets more interesting when he joined the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association (HDSA), after many people informed Cleary that joining the HDSA would increase his chances of getting the firearm permit as well as streamline the CCW process.
“I discovered it was common knowledge among everyone who had any relation to the San Diego Sheriff’s process for issuing permits to carry a concealed handgun that certain people, including HDSA members, received preferential treatment when applying for a permit to carry a concealed handgun,” Clearly claimed.
Curiously, after becoming an HDSA member and asking then, Under-Sheriff Gore, to reconsider his application for a CCW, Gore allegedly said he would see what he could do, according to court documents. Shortly thereafter, “without warning, my first permit to carry a concealed handgun arrived in the mail.”
Just as mysteriously as Cleary’s CCW permit’s arrival was the fact that Cleary’s third renewal was denied.
“I ceased being a member of the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association in January of 2010 because I was having financial issues and could not afford to continue paying the $175-$250 I paid annually to be a member.”
After signing onto this lawsuit Cleary says he asked for an appeal with Assistant Sheriff R. Ahern to review the denial of his CCW application and after the meeting he was given his conceal carry permit for a third time.
The plaintiffs also strongly believe the San Diego Sheriff’s Department continues its practice of preferential treatment for Honorary Sheriff’s Deputy Association members in the CCW application process. Plaintiffs’ undisputed facts Number 18 will certainly be the source of countywide heartache. It reads; “Curiously, certain HDSA members were granted CCWs by the county despite failing to provide such documentation. For example, in the ‘good cause’ section of their applications, some HDSA members merely stated ‘personal protection’ or ‘protection’ without out further explanation or supporting documentation.”
This information was discovered by the plaintiff’s attorneys and investigators who waded through hundreds of CCW applications located within the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
The group wholly believes the strongest part of their case lies with Cleary’s statement in which he was denied, became an HDSA member, personally met with then Under-Sheriff Gore and magically got his CCW permit.
The plaintiffs also contend “the County holds HDSA members to different, much more lenient standards than the general public, including Plaintiffs, when issuing CCWs. In fact, not one single HDSA member who, while in good standing, has sought a CCW from the County from 2006 to the present has been denied, while 18 nonmembers have been denied and an unknown number of others decided not to formally apply based on their initial interview or failure to satisfy the County’s strict ‘good cause’ requirement applicable to the general public.”
Plaintiffs have lodged 23 undisputed facts and numerous exhibits, some of which are not publically available because they were provided to the court under seal, will make their way to federal court on November 1 of this year. Many 2nd Amendment advocates will be closely monitoring this case and hope that beneficial pro-gun rights benchmarks are tendered that can be used throughout the Golden State.
For those wishing to follow this case and view the documents quoted in this article, the case is titled “3:09-cv-02371-IEG-BGS Peruta v. County of San Diego et al” and available on the Federal Court’s PACER website.