Never underestimate the talent politicians have for taking something minor and making it into a massive new (and usually expensive) problem. Take, for example, Republican California Assemblyman Eric Linder’s latest effort to create new headaches for Golden State gun owners.
Linder claims that his Assembly Bill 2510 is designed to make the state’s antiquated CCW licenses “uniform.” But, as is not surprising in politics, the truth is something very different.
While it’s widely acknowledged that California’s “rice paper” handgun carry permits are less than ideal – they were designed to be manually printed with a typewriter and must be folded to fit in a wallet – AB 2510 does anything but create uniformity. In fact, AB 2510 would allow over 400 different California CCW issuing authorities to have their own style and format of license — hardly the picture of “uniform.”
Current law already requires licenses to be “uniform throughout the state,” so what’s the problem? Well, some sheriff’s offices, in contradiction to the law, have issued plastic, credit card-sized licenses in lieu of or in addition to the rice paper permits. AB 2510 would grandfather all of those existing unique licenses and only suggest uniformity going forward.
So what does this matter to anyone?
If AB 2510 passes it will be virtually impossible for a law enforcement officer to know if someone’s license is legitimate or a forged knockoff. After all, it’s not like every patrol car will be equipped with a binder full of hundreds of examples of valid CCW licenses. Even if they did have such a binder, should we put that type of burden on an already overworked law enforcement officer?
Imagine that you’re a carry licensee from Shasta County pulled over for a traffic stop while traveling through Los Angeles. You calmly inform the officer that you’re legally armed and present your license. What should the officer do?
Will they disarm you first (and good luck getting that firearm back, legal owner), or possibly even cuff and detain you, for officer safety? Or should they assume that everyone with an official-looking-enough plastic ID card is a law-abiding gun owner and leave you in your car with your gun while they run your license, registration, and CCW?
Clearly, AB 2510 doesn’t solve any problems, but it does create many dangerous new ones.
Instead of this bill’s flawed approach, there are a number of real solutions that should be considered to modernize California’s concealed carry licenses.
For example, the legislature could use some common sense and direct the Attorney General to create a modern, uniform license that must be utilized by all issuing agencies.
Though some might protest, “That costs too much,” they should remember that licensing authorities are already collecting upwards of $100 per license every two years. Some of those fees could easily be spent on a standardized card printer and the agencies could use state-issued plastic cards.
Last year Asm. Linder voted for a total ban on handgun carry on all public and private school grounds. This year he is taking the Obamacare approach to legislation, hoping that his bill will pass before anyone reads it catches on. Should we trust that the same guy who voted to take away gun rights has your best interests in mind?
Hopefully, one day politicians will understand that it’s sometimes better to do nothing than do the wrong thing.
Allowing each issuing agency to create its own license, and even grandfathering in existing plastic licenses issued outside of the law, is a silly and potentially dangerous practice. It’s like allowing each county to issue its own format of driver’s license or passport. It is dangerous, invites fraud, promotes confusion, and can lead to the restriction of rights.