Before I explain why California concealed carry permit holders probably won’t help in an active shooter incident, it might be helpful for me to lay down some basic groundwork.
At the time of this writing a little over a week has passed since the terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino California. That attack, which was carried out by a husband and wife Islamic terrorist team, was a well-planned attack on a “Gun Free Zone” that killed 14 and wounded as many others. Several lessons have been learned, or should have been learned, as we’ve watched the reaction of politicians and government officials. Other lessons can be learned by simply evaluating what we “know” about the way the event unfolded. That said, I don’t know what you’ve learned, but I’ve learned the following:
- “Gun Free Zones” don’t work. They are nothing more than designated slaughter houses where active shooters can be assured that helpless victims may be murdered easily and without resistance.
- Active shooters, not surprisingly, select targets that are designated “Gun Free Zones.”
- Police did not protect the people who were killed or injured. In fact, police arrived only after the shooters had completed their terrible business and left. Conclusion: police will catch or kill the shooters, but only after you are dead. They will not be there to keep you from getting killed in the first place.
- President Obama and his entire administration appear to be more concerned with protecting Muslims from hurt feelings than protecting the American people from Islamic terrorists. This was never more evident than during President Obama’s 13 minute speech from the Oval office or Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s threat to prosecute Americans if they use “hate speech” against Muslims.
- California state politicians seem only concerned with creating more killing fields in the form of Gun Free Zones, rather than making it possible for Californians to defend themselves against active shooters. Governor Jerry Brown announced that he will seek greater restrictions on the gun rights of the law abiding while doing nothing to address the threat of Islamic terrorism in the Golden State.
Having established the background above, let me give you a broad brush view of the California CCW permit landscape. The state of California has basically two kinds of concealed carry permit holders, if we remove active duty police officers from the equation. The first and probably the most numerous are retired police officers who are permitted to carry firearms for their personal defense under HR218. Retired officers may carry their firearms throughout the state at any time without such things as “business only” restrictions. The second kind of concealed carry permit holder consists of law abiding citizens who are not retired police officers. This kind of CCW permit often comes with some sort of restriction. A good example might be, “For business related purposes only.” Since California delegates issuance of concealed carry permits to local Sheriff’s, each county has a different policy regarding the issuance of permits. Some rural counties issue permits for lawful self-defense without business restrictions. Some counties, such as Los Angeles County, don’t issue at all. Others, like San Diego County, issue permits to business owners for business purposes only. Thus, law abiding citizens living in rural counties are more likely to have a concealed carry permit and more likely to have a concealed carry permit that is unrestricted. The last time I checked, terrorists are more likely to strike in urban areas where few if any permits are issued and where those few permits that are issued are restricted.
Now, with that background established, I come to the subject of this article: why concealed carry permit holders in the state of California probably won’t help during an active shooter incident. From what I’ve written above you can see that California citizens are already at a disadvantage. Concealed carry permits are rare in major metropolitan areas. The situation becomes even more dire when you consider that government buildings, K-12 schools, colleges, and major event venues (stadiums and the like) are all designated “Gun Free Zones.” California concealed carry permit holders are forbidden from carrying their firearms in “Gun Free Zones.”
In spite of all those road blocks, let’s say that John Doe the concealed carry holder magically happens to be attending an event where he can legally carry his pistol. Furthermore, let’s pretend that an active shooter starts killing people at that event. Mr. Doe, being the upstanding and civic minded individual that he is, steps forward, takes action and stops the carnage by shooting and killing the active shooter. Thanks to the brave actions of Mr. Doe only two lives were lost. What happens next?
- The police arrive and begin questioning Mr. Doe and others. Mr. Doe doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t talk to the police. After all, he was just trying to help and he actually stopped the killing. But something Mr. Doe says causes the investigator’s ears to perk up. Mr. Doe winds up getting arrested and taken to jail.
- The press arrives and starts speculating about what happened and making up “facts” as they go along. I mean, what do you expect? The reporters are in competition with each other. They can’t just wait around to get the facts straight. If they did that, the competition might beat them to the scoop. It’s all about ratings you know! Since reporters see the police walking Mr. Doe out in handcuffs, his name is plastered all over every newscast, website and newspaper. Is he the shooter? Was he working with the shooter? Did he accidently shoot someone when he was “helping?”
- The press arrives at Mr. Doe’s house. TV screens around the world are filled with images of Mr. Doe’s front door while reporters eagerly try to get a peek through the closed curtains.
- The press interviews the family and friends of the active shooter. “But.. he was such a nice boy. I can’t imagine him every doing anything like this.”
- Reporters pack the courthouse as Mr. Doe’s hearing is held. Talking heads on every news program speculate and pontificate about Mr. Doe’s involvement in the shooting and what his future might bring.
- The family of the active shooter files a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Mr. Doe claiming wrongful death. Once again TV screens are filled with the tearful expressions of the active shooter’s family as they tell the sad story of his young and innocent childhood. And again, reporters camp outside Mr. Doe’s home in an effort to get video footage of this evil man as he tries to cover his face while racing reporters to his car.
- Fed up with all the negative attention caused by the media, Mr. Doe’s employer fires Mr. Doe. Now Mr. Doe is facing criminal prosecution and a crushing lawsuit while being both unemployed and unemployable.
- After months or perhaps years of court battles and negative media attention, Mr. Doe is forced to sell his home, change his name, and move to another state.
If the scenario I’ve outlined above seems fanciful to you, I suggest you consider the way that the media and society persecute police officers who are involved in shootings. Police officers, who are required to make arrests and deal with criminals, are afforded qualified or limited immunity to protect them against unreasonable and frivolous lawsuits resulting from the performance of their duty. Even with that safeguard, many a police officer’s life has been destroyed because of endless media attention and political expediency. The fact that some of these officers did absolutely nothing wrong has not saved them. If society eagerly and willingly destroys the lives of police officers who act, what makes anybody think that a liberal gun-hating California won’t decimate the life of a concealed carry permit holder. I’m here to tell you that it will.
California concealed carry permit holders, weather civilian or retired police, have a very real concern when it comes to the consequences of taking action. It’s a fact that concealed carry permit holders want to help and desire to save lives. Still, when they come to grips with the horrible consequences of doing so, many have told me that they probably won’t.